Birthday Bashes and Princess Parties

I won’t say the last month has been a nonstop party– anyone who knows this time of year in New England would know I was lying. We have had our share of celebrations, though, including Claire’s 5th birthday and a trip to Orlando to see the Disney Princesses. The trip was a raging success. Of course. Not only did we see most of the princesses up close and personal, but we got to do it with our friends, the Careres. We were quite a pack, the thirteen of us, walking around the Disney parks! For the first few hours, Chloe was counting kids every time I looked at her– making sure we had everybody. By the end of the second day, we had, indeed, lost one for a little while. But 7-yr-old Nico had the presence of mind to tell a Disney “cast member” that his family had “abandoned him.” He waited at the prairie dog exhibit until we doubled back and found him. Shades of Home Alone?

If our first day at Disney was all about princesses, fairies, and the Magic Kingdom; our second was all about wild animals. We were pleasantly surprised by Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Right off the bat we big people got to ride a great “Mt Everest” roller coaster (with a surprise Yeti twist)– and yes, I still love a thrill ride, so I guess I’m not that old! We all went on a safari ride on which we saw elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, lions, crocs… I don’t know what all. The kids were very impressed. But they were NOT impressed by the dino ride we mistakenly took them on– riding through darkness while loud and scary dinos jump out at you from every corner… OOPS! Quinn was the only one of the four littles not crying when we left (the littlest one, Timothy, was not with us). But we finished on an up note for all five littles, with a live “Nemo” musical. It was a broadway-quality production, with live actors visible but also holding (and animating) puppets that looked just like the movie characters. With the whole movie plus new songs condensed into 40 minutes, it felt like an over-caffeinated Nemo, but the kids didn’t seem to mind!

Meanwhile, the out-of-park hours were filled with swimming, snacking, and a debut performance of the Ava & Claire show, which included a cameo appearance by Ceci (as the wicked witch) and Quinn (as “the evil dinosaur who helps her”). Ava was the writer, director, etc.– a natural, I’d say! She and Claire wore matching mouse-ear veils. Quinn’s dino feet (see picture at left) roar with every step and the head roars with movement, so you can imagine the effect when the children split up the pieces after the play and were running all over the house with them! (Though we had hoped that once home he might favor the dino costume over Claire’s princess dresses for a while, he has instead created a whole new ensemble by combining the dino head and feet with Claire’s Ariel dress…) What a wild and crazy weekend we had.

But this weekend has been the opposite. Tonight Claire is tucked in on the couch next to me, having had a sick day. Poor little princess tossed her cookies just before bedtime, so she is not going to the top bunk tonight. Quinn is tucked in his lower bunk, all sweet and clean after his bath, administering kisses and hugs to mommy, and telling his stuffed animals to be quiet so they don’t wake up Claire. Though I explained to him that she is sick and on the couch, I think he believes she is asleep in the top bunk. He told me he will go straight to sleep like a big kid. Really, he IS getting to be a big kid. Little children are so heartbreakingly precious. God bless them all.

Double-decker Hesketts watching the parade at Animal Kingdom.

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