Our last two entries told all about Ava's birthday party, and then her actual birthday a few days later. There is one final piece of what became Ava's birthday week, and that was a trip to Disney World to see the Magic Kingdom. We arrived in Orlando on Thursday, so we could get into the park early and beat what we figured would be big crowds. Unlike Universal Studios, which Ava had been to before, Disney actually had rides that she could go on.
I had not been on "It's a Small World" since I was maybe ten years old, so I really did not recall anything about it except for the song that gets in your head and stays there for a few hours. That was the first ride we went for, figuring it was mild enough to be a good gauge of how baby girl would handle the attractions. From the moment we got in the boat, her eyes were open wide in amazement as she saw all the singing dancing figures. She laughed, she waved, and she bounced with excitement when she saw the giraffes in the Africa portion of the ride. Since she loved it so much, we figured she'd like some other kiddie rides, too.
She loved the Dumbo ride, because she got to fly way up high in the air and feel the wind in her hair. She loved the Peter Pan ride, too, leaning over in her seat and saying "oooh" at things that caught her attention. We took her on "Snow White's Scary Adventures" and in retrospect, the third word in the name should have tipped us off that she wouldn't like it. It was pretty dark and, well, scary. She tried to climb up from her seat onto our shoulders to hide a couple of times, but she emerged unscathed, waving at the seven dwarves.
We also wanted her to meet her buddies Minnie and Mickey in person, since she loves them so much whenever she gets to see them on television and books. After she cried at Santa, we weren't sure how she would react to them in the flesh. So we warmed her up with a visit to Pinnocchio first. We bought her a little autograph book and a Minnie Mouse pen, and we got in line when we saw him. She walked right up to him, did a lap around to inspect him, and then she came closer and patted him on the knee, grinning. Success! So we were off to brave the 45 minute line for her to meet the mice.
When we got to the Minnie and Mickey on-deck circle, we were a little wary again because the much older child in line right in front of us had a meltdown when he got right up to them. But when it was our turn, Ava just turned on the smiles and the charm. She high-fived Mickey right off the bat, and gave Minnie a hug and a pat on the nose. She was all grins and giggles, and she even sat alone with them (with her little arm around Minnie) for us to take her picture. When she was done with the visit and we walked away, our munchkin was busy giving the pageant/princess wave to everybody still waiting in line, as though they had come to see her. As we were on our way out of the park, we stopped in at the "Chapeau" so Ava could get her first pair of mouse ears.
We powered through the day without a single nap, so Ava was pretty exhausted by the time late afternoon rolled around. The next day we made our way to the ESPN complex so Tam could pick up her registration packet and number for the half-marathon that she was running the next day. Afterwards we got to enjoy the hotel amenities a bit, and grabbed a nice dinner and an early bedtime, since the race started so early. The next day, Tam completed the race with a very respectable finish time, and Ava helped her do a little victory dance. We enjoyed some more time with friends who came down from Tennessee to run in the race as well, and we packed up and headed home.
Some other highlights of the trip for Ava were the discovery of Rice Krispy treats shaped like Mickey Mouse, some splashing around in the hotel pool, and the as-big-as-she-is stuffed Minnie Mouse that our friends brought her for her birthday.
A birthday in three parts - we won't necessarily go so big for some of Ava's future birthday's, but turning one is a big deal, and we wanted to celebrate big with her. She loved every bit of it, and we loved doing it all with her. I hope she can look back on the pictures and these blog entries when she gets older, and get a sense of just how much we love her and enjoy her company.