The Weekly Peanut, Issue 177 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PEANUT!
It's been a heck of a week in Peanut life. D's moods have definitely been hit or miss, but strangely enough, the misses haven't been food-related (at least not entirely).
Here she is eating a sample of salmon stuffed with crab meat and oyster crackers. She loved it.
That green stuff sticking out of her mouth is broccoli. Which she ate willingly. Her idea. She's also picking up more of my expressions. Like my "can't even" with cute things. Or things she perceives as cute, anyway. Here she is reading a Ranger Rick Jr.
As is the nature of all kids, there is no such thing as a parenting comfort zone. D's been acting out recently, reverting on behaviors we thought we'd gotten corrected, so Ian and I have to reexamine our approach. D is back to everything needing to be her idea, or she fights it. So Ian and I have to Game of Thrones every approach we have to getting her to do something. Long-game. We're calling it "Varys-ing" (because "Littlefingering" would sound really really bad). When I picked D up from school on Friday, I decided to give her some one-on-one time (something else Ian and I have discussed, each taking time to focus on her and building our unique relationships). We went to Azteca, where I told her she could have mac and cheese but only if she got the carrots on the side. She agreed. We ordered. While we waited she wanted to know what the salt and pepper grinders were. I explained. She asked to "try." So I sprinkled some salt and pepper onto a plate for her. And she cleaned the plate.
Twice. Her food came and she surprised me by diving on the carrots and peanut butter with no prompting. Then she grabbed the peanut butter... and a bite of mac and cheese...together... MOMMY SO YUMMY! Uhhhh ok. MOMMY YOU TRY SOME! Uhhhh I think I'll pass... MOMMY! TRY EVERYTHING, MOMMY! I love when my words get thrown back at me, don't you?
Daphne was invited to one of her school friends' birthday parties on Saturday (there are 4 kids in Daphne's class born within 4 days of one another). The location? Chuck E. Cheese. Well, this was sure to be a trip down memory lane.
Daphne seemed to love it. The chaos. The noise. The pizza. Ian and I? Well... Uh...
We said our goodbyes and wanted to make a family outing to Sea World (we haven't had a chance to go back since getting our new passes). We got all the way down to the park, only to be blanketed by a torrential downpour. Sea World is great for a lot of things, but it's very difficult to have a successful rain day there (most of the shows are outdoor pavilions and such). So we opted to switch our plans over to Animal Kingdom. Almost as if the Disney Gods had manufactured this plan from the beginning, the moment we reached the Animal Kingdom parking lot, the rain cleared.
We took D back on the Dinosaur ride. She's very into separating the dinosaurs into "good dinosaur" and "bad dinosaur" categories. We tried to explain it's not necessarily good and bad, just a matter of what they eat and who is particularly hungry. D, for her part, hid her face a few times and clung to us pretty tightly, but was brave. Again. It was still sprinkling a bit, so we took D to the bugs' life show (It's Tough To Be A Bug). The crowds were pretty non existent thanks to the previous downpour. D, again, wanted to categorize the bugs as "good" or "bad." Do all toddlers look at things so black and white? D was getting cranky and not listening. Typical hungry/tired behavior so we grabbed some food before going on the Safari.
She dipped a few pieces of broccoli in barbecue sauce, but it would appear she prefers her veggies a little less al dente. The safari was really great, AGAIN. I stick by my previous note that around sunset/ early evening is the best time for animal activity. We even had a whole row to ourselves so D could slide to either side to see the animals closer. A giraffe was right up next to the truck (close enough for D to see his "booty wrinkles"). My favorite part was that the lions were out. And not just one. Two lionesses were perched on a rock right at the edge of their enclosure giving death stares to the zebras just a few yards away, while the male had somehow gotten to the top of their rock formation and had draped himself across it so majestically. I didn't get pics, it was on Ian's side of the truck. D was great for the safari, but then as we went to get in line for Festival of the Lion King (still probably the best show at the parks), she started acting a bit squirrely again. Not exactly BAD, but just not listening and laughing about it.
Then we were sat in the theater and she was fine. We were in the warthog section and, for the first time, D participated in making the animal sounds. On our way out we wanted to have a peek in to the new lounge/restaurant, Tiffin's. It is GORGEOUS. The restaurant looks pretty pricey, but the lounge/bar has small plate options and this incredible outdoor seating with couches, that should have some really incredible views of Pandora once construction is finished. Speaking of...
You can see one of the floating mountains under construction in the distance. Also twenty-something me gets all excited over "Explore the Bioluminescence!" I may not have been infatuated with the movie, but Avatar-land could be a really cool thing to EXPERIENCE. We'll see.
Ian had to work Sunday, so D and I made a morning out of running errands. D loves Publix, but not just for the free cookies in the bakery. Her new favorite thing is the sample slice at the Deli.
D went to bed Sunday night very excited that she would wake up on her birthday (she's been talking about it for months now). She came into our room bright and early and we let her open her first presents.
D got her new Stitch dress, ears, and the Animator's Collection Stitch doll which talks and moves interactively (I might be more in awe of it than D is). Then we packed up and headed out for D's awesome birthday. Our first stop? Magic Kingdom.
D somehow charmed the guy working at the monorail line not only out of a birthday button, but stickers, a transportation card, AND this pirate hat.
In case you didn't know, the 4th of July is generally one of the most attended days at the parks all year; Magic Kingdom frequently reaches capacity by the early afternoon. We were really impressed when we got to the ticketing center that, with the Ferry, monorail, and buses all running, wait time was not any more than a normal day would be. Security/bag check in front of the park, as well, was an impressively short wait. We decided to have a low-key morning (it was too hot to hustle, for sure) and started out in Town Square to see Summer Trolley for the first time this year. It was so hot, that even in the shade of the station we were all melting in moments. I cannot say enough good things about the UV parasol and cooling cloths I invested in this year; I would not be surviving without them.
At last we heard the trolley music in the square. Melanie ran over after the show to wish D a Happy Birthday and hide under the parasol.
We meandered slowly up through the emporium (and its blessed a/c) before braving the hub to grab a spot for the new castle show right up front. We only had to wait 10 minutes, but in those 10 minutes ON THE SURFACE OF THE SUN it was made apparent that our family is just not built for these temperatures. The show started and D was very excited that Tiana and Naveen noticed her earnest waving.
We took a quick side trip to visit Danica in Fantasyland.
We got a message from one of D's buddies that she was debuting in a new role in Festival of Fantasy that day. Also found out there would be a second (earlier) FoF at noon. We were melting, and we'd gotten a text letting us know our room at the Port Orleans Riverside resort was available. We made our way to our usual spot in Town Square. Despite the absolutely PACKED main street, our spot was empty. It was also (due to the time, noon) completely shaded and lightly chilled by the air drifting out of the emporium. We were able to get a spot right on the rope without having to leave the shade, thus making our wait for parade not entirely unpleasant. D asked for some "cards" (read: Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards) while we waited. In typical Disney fashion, they gave her two packs when they saw her birthday button.
D got so much love during parade. Every passing princess wished her a Happy Birthday (even Ariel, way up on her seashell). At last we cheered on our new favorite Bubble Girl.
We headed back out to the car (that walk from the TTC to the Mulan lot was the longest and most brutal of the day) and drove over to the resort. This part of our trip was a surprise for D. With Disney's online check in system, we were able to use our magic bands to go directly to our hotel room, bypassing the lobby altogether. We stayed in the "Royal Room" which, I think it's safe to say, is probably D's favorite theming so far. Particularly the light up headboards from Tiana's bayou.
Ian crashed while D fed herself carrots and peanut butter watching Disney Jr.
D and I freshened up before getting changed for our dinner reservations. We let D open her other presents from us: A Darth Vader dress, Storm Trooper Minnie ears, and some learning to read books featuring the Disney Fairies.
It's safe to say some Jedi training is in this kid's future. We took D outside to explore the grounds a little. PO-Riverside is themed to look mostly like the Garden District of New Orleans. It's beautiful and impressively quiet / calm.
We made it to the Grand Floridian for dinner with our buddies.
We met up with Bella and Maddie in the lobby while we waited for our table. D got to open presents. She had a VERY Star Wars birthday.
Also I might steal that BB8 backpack. It lights up AND talks.
D had zero problem channeling her inner Stitch all night. Basically she just got to be herself. Ashley and baby Addison were in town and also having dinner at Park Fare. Addie came to the table for a visit. D is obsessed and was more taken with entertaining the baby than seeing the characters.
Prince Charming was the first to arrive at our table, and I knew it would be a test for my kid.
I may or may not have offered D a gummy bear in exchange for her best behavior. She may or may not have enthusiastically accepted my offer. Cinderella came next. I really have to commend the incredible cast that was working that night. On a holiday. Everybody was kind and patient with our girls and their many idiosyncrasies and unusual questions and commentary.
We've missed Lady T a lot. D immediately engaged her in conversation. "I have your movie! I watch it! You not very nice in dat movie. But you nice to me, and Mommy says that is what matters." Ok, maybe my kid listens to me every now and then.
"Alright, you can't tell my daughters I did this, but you can have a hug."
I caught D and Bella giving each other cuddles and cheek kisses.
Anastasia, everyone's favorite hugger, got bombarded.
But the star of the show was Drizella. She'd just arrived at our table when Cindy & Charming had their little dance. After the dance, Charming came over and asked Maddie if she wanted to dance with him. She looked up at Drizella. Nope. Then D walked up. Charming got shut down. TWICE. For Drizella.
Poor Charming. He had no idea what he was up against. Drizella enthusiastically embraced her role as a dance partner.
And just so you know, no matter what Drizella says about her sister being the "hugger," she indulges every now and then.
D got a birthday cupcake. We couldn't light the candle, but we sang for her anyway. She ate all the frosting and none of the cake.
We wrapped up dinner and hung out in the lobby for a little while to plan our next step (how/where to watch fireworks). D continued to love on Addison.
We finally settled on making our way to the Polynesian. We took the monorail and hid in the lobby for a while to avoid the heat. Ashlyn, Chris, and Lindsey joined us. D took it upon herself to join a table of people who were playing dice while waiting for their table at Trader Sam's. "Excuse me. I know how to do this cause I am 4 now." Bless their patient souls for letting my kid shake some dice with them. We finally headed out to the beach. It was crowded, but not to the point of being oppressive (and we discovered walking around for future reference many other areas we could have viewed the fireworks that would have been even less crowded). The girls embraced the sand whole-heartedly. And their friends.
The fireworks started at 9pm. Disney's July 4th fireworks really are spectacular and not like any fireworks I've ever seen anywhere else. Last year we watched them from the docks at the Grand Floridian, which was overwhelming, loud, immersive, but still spectacular. This year our view was less overwhelming, but we could hear the music and had an easier time viewing it without feeling like we were INSIDE the fireworks.
On the walk back to the GF, a boat was docking. D immediately engaged them in conversation. "DID YOU KNOW IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! I AM FOUR!" Within moments she had the whole boat singing happy birthday to her, while they handed over all their extra glowsticks AND balloons. Headed back to the hotel with Maddie and Amanda. The next morning we reluctantly packed up. Took D to the food court for breakfast. This didn't stop her from eating even more cereal back at the hotel room while we finished packing.
We made our way out to the main pool. I have to say this might be my favorite resort pool yet. It may not be quite as themed as Art of Animation, but this is the first resort pool I've ever seen designed to have most of its seating with shade cover. It's beautiful and quiet and I adore it.
D has been strangely reluctant recently about swimming. We started out together in the kiddie wading pool. She wanted to just stay there, but eventually she was tempted by the slide. This kid LOVES a water slide. We got her strapped into a float vest, and Ian planted himself to catch her at the bottom.
Brave kid. All by herself! Ian and I had to take turns escorting her and catching her. Endlessly. Eventually we talked her into taking a little break to do some actual swimming. She made so much progress, doggy paddling all by herself, pulling herself along the side of the pool without help. Big steps for her! Definitely feeling even more dedicated to trying to get her swimming unassisted by the end of the summer. We said goodbye to Riverside and headed next door to check out the French Quarter side of Port Orleans (and to let D try her first ever beignets).
The French Quarter Resort gave me pangs for going back to New Orleans. Even more than Riverside. I can't wait for D to be old enough to appreciate it. We found our way to the food court and watched the beignets get made to order. We also got a side of chicory chocolate ganache dipping sauce, which is every bit as good as it sounds. D, our little coffee lover, enjoyed it thoroughly.
I think she preferred the sauce and leftover powdered sugar to the beignets themselves.
We took a few minutes to walk around the resort.
The heat eventually drove us away, but not before D insisted on getting photographed with the gators.
We got home Tuesday night and D asked us to put on Episode I (did I mention Jeanna, when she found out Ian and I weren't planning to show D the prequels, got them for D as part of her bday present?). The Phantom Menace is worse than I remember, but D seemed to enjoy it. I also finally remembered I had another gift stashed away for her: retractable light sabers. Oh yeah. A Very Star Wars Birthday, indeed.
And then she was a complete turd about eating dinner that night. *Cue Price is Right fail music*