We had an amazing time with Uncle Pumpkin and Cousin Zac. Everyone is exhausted and our next round of visitors come today (I know that because Pia woke up this morning and shouted, "mama!! Today is the day Monkey and Bennett come!") so this sampling of the past long weekend wil have to do for now.
Just know you both enjoyed yourselves and have been sleeping ever since.
In the event that you should one day look back upon these letters thinking, "what on earth was I doing all those free minutes?" and then wonder, "what would it look like all sped up?"... I have the answer.
60 seconds of Rafa at 3 months
60 seconds of Pia at 3 years (except this is actually your normal speed)
After Pia's birthday, we took Sanny & Pop Pop to look at a home in Coral Gables. While we toured about, you entertained each other.
After deciding it wasn't right for us (or more like, that we didn't want the headache of moving again after just getting here!), we headed back home. You guys all piled in on your Sanny for some love.
Then Rafa went down for a nap and woke up a bit grumbly. Pia cured him of his grumbles with her magical hair.
Later, Sanny and PopPop went off to the airport for their next stop on the Autumn world tour, this time to Argentina. Pia waited for Papa to come home while practicing her snipping skills. Since getting these slippers from Alabama for her birthday, she hasn't taken them off. Apparently they even trump the princess costumes.
Since it was the weekend, we started a new tradition of film night. Papa set up the movie on our wall and we all jumped onto our king size (this is America, we can do that) bed for a bedtime movie. Really that means Mama and Rafa fell asleep before they movie started, and Pia and Papa watched Tinkerbelle.
On Saturday, papa worked in the morning, but we decided to meet him in the afternoon for an adventure. Pia insisted on wearing her "fairy dress" to Jungle Island. And since she dressed herself and it was actually prefecly adorable, I agreed.
By the time we got to jungle Island, you were both asleep, so we packed you into the pram anyway and went exploring. We nearly walked the whole park before you both started to stir. And even then, it was partially due to us stopping for a wild adventure show. Pia and Rafa both got their moment of stardom when Dr Wasabbi singled them out in the audience for being cute, duh.
Later, Pia spotted this Flamingo and exclaimed, "we're both wearing pink!"
When we got home, we put Pia's birthday present of cooking stuff from Wisco to work. M&M cookie cups.
And after a full day around the house (we thought we'd give Rafa a break from the heat for once since there seems to be a correlation between his grumbly moods and time spent outdoors). Rafa and Papa caught up on some cuddles on the sofa.
And after late nights with movies twice in a row, Pia called it quits right in my arms. I didn't complain. Lord knows I love a good old fashioned cud pud.
Today you were Aurora even out of the house. It made it very easy to get you to run errands with me. You have successfully learned to use the big potty while we're out and about, so we spent an extended day discovering the Coral Gables Youth Centre. Everyone has been telling us about this place since we got here, so we were long overdue a checkout. It was pretty cool.
There is a whole gymnastics studio, gym for every type of sport, cooking studio, dance studio, even a crafts workshop... And you know how mummy feels about that!
After we'd finished touring about the kids rooms and soft play zones, we headed outside to the playground. The local prep academy had just dropped a group of after school kids and they were running around the playground happily when we got there. You joined right in despite them being twice your age. I was trying to play it cool and let you do your thing, so Rafa and I hung out in the shade.
I heard you telling a boy, "I'm just Aurora!" And then sulking a bit as he ran off. I thought you were just being silly, but then to each child that came near, you said, "I'm just Aurora" both shy and brave all at the same time. None of the older kids responded to you. But one ran off and told his friends, "that little girl in the princess dress is Aurora."
I chuckled at the stimulating conversations you were stirring up and carried on minding Rafa in the shade. When he started to fuss, I went to tell you it was time to go. It was weird that you came right away (your normal reaction would be to run the opposite way) when I said we were going home. You came down the stairs and said, "Mama, the boy called me 'ugly girl'".
And then it all made sense. He must have done it early on and all that time you were trying to tell them you were Aurora, it was to correct him. You are Aurora, not ugly. You are not so young that you didn't understand what he said and it clearly hurt your feelings. When you told me in all your stunned innocence about the boy on the playground, I wanted to cry. That horrible rotten child picking on my sweet little princess. But I managed to choke back a tear and tell you not to mind the little boy, he was probably feeling ugly inside and that made him act that way. Then I followed you with Rafa as you walked the kerb all the way back to the car. I held on a little extra before putting you in your car seat.
You told me all about how the boy at the playground called you ugly on the way home. He made you feel bad, you said. I told you again and again never to mind such silly boys and that you are beautiful inside and out. But the truth is that he hurt my feelings too. I know I have to teach you to fight your own battles on the playground, but I wanted so much to scoop you up and whisk you away to safety. Those words hurt because they were like a symbol of what's to come. An innocence I'm not ready to loose. Now that you're three, you're showing your independence more and more each day. There will always be playground bullies, and I won't ways be right there to tell you you're beautiful. But you are. No matter what they say or do-you are my little angel and I will be here for you when you chin up and walk away.
We decided today that it would be highly unlikely you will grow up to speak like an average american. We think it much more likely you will only ever be able to respond to people with your own special language that will go something like this:
(Any unsuspecting) Person: how are you Rafa?
Person: um, are you ok?
And so on.
You can thank your sister for this fine lingual-expertise later. She, who has already dubbed you "rafuuuuu", works hard to teach you this fine art of speaking day and night by shoving her puckered lips into your cheek and making the sounds noted above.
Somehow it always gets a smile out of you. And me, because though my mind tells me the whole thing is rather odd, I can't help my gut from chuckling.
Despite all of this, you are thriving. You rolled over from your front to back this week and when I chucked it off as a freak incident, you did it again and again to prove me wrong.
You are so content and happy; even now I am amazed at how you are just happy to sit in the swing and watch us cook or happily listen to the very long stories your sister and I read to you. This week, SkipHop sent an activity gym, which is another favourite spot to hang already. Unfortunately your sister is loving it too, which makes the whole experience a little less calm, but I'm sure this will pass. When she's not in your face, you definitely prefer the elephant and stare at him for minutes on end. If I move him, you find him. You're a clever clogs like that.
Your big sister just turned 3, but you're turning 3 months soon. A milestone for you both. I can already feel that my little smush is growing into a real live baby. I have no idea where the past three months have gone-the idea of you being so old overwhelms me. I want to reach out and hold back the clock hands from moving so this moment stays long enough for me to just get my head around it and yet the hours, days, weeks just keep running loops around us. I wonder if I'll ever catch up.
Just know, that no matter how fast you grow, I will always be loving you from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. And know that I'm doing the best that I can to show you that every single day.
Magic Kingdom started day two just like this. Perfection.
Which must have been what we needed to get our heads screwed on straight and learn how to "follow the signs" because day 2 we parked like the rest of the world and took the ferry to the park.
We got in early and didnt have fast pass bookings till the afternoon so we strolled through bits of the park that weren't part of Fantasyland for once. I showed you the Tikki Tikki Tikki Tikki Tikki Room,
And you met Aladdin and Princess Jasmine (though not very willingly, you wanted to wait for them, but once they showed up and you were first in the queue, you declared you wouldn't be seeing them)...
Then Rapunzel spotted her tower and we knew things were looking up in the world.
When we met Rapunzel, she was perfect. You guys jabbered on the way girls do, touching on all the important subjects: hair
You turned three today. Everyone kept asking me if I could believe how old you've become and I'd just stare blankly at them. With everything that's gone on, I haven't had time to dwell. I didn't know that it would all hit me like this. You're three and I love you more than words can say. You've grown up so much in the past few months. You've gone from toddler to little girl. You're demanding and righteous and full of spark. You're potty trained, you're counting in English and Spanish (thank you Gigi-finally someone picked up the ball!), you're learning the alphabet, you're receiting whole stories (and some of them, not many but some, are actually not Disney princess!). You're full of love for Rafa and the rest of your family. You're independent and you know just what you want.
Today we celebrated your birthday doing exactly what you wanted to do all day. You often exclaim, "it's good to be home for the day!" Which you must have picked up somewhere. Today I heard it more than once. I had big plans to take you to the zoo or somewhere new, but you wanted none of it. So eventually I gave up and we just did this:
And besides, home is pretty good on your birthday, so who am I to take you from it?
Rafa was feeling a little less enthused today and so winged and slept abd nursed his way through the day. But you? You had Mickey Mouse waffles on a stick. Just like Disney World.
Then we carried on with a bit of crazy. (Maple syrup can make you do that sometimes.)
We built a snowman, Olaf style, but you weren't too impressed that I forgot his smile and teeth. "Oh mummy!"
You opened a gift and transformed into Cinderella. You've been telling everyone that Cinderella is the princess dress you don't have...so I guess this made you pretty happy.
Then I supervised while you played with the scissors to cut out rose petals while I attended to a disgruntled baby brother.
And we pasted them on the beasts' rose. You insisted that there was one big petal falling to show that time was running out. Clever clogs.
Then we just sort of hung out on your new chair. Dressed
A few times in the morning you got a bit disheartened. I think you thought since it was your birthday, everyone would be there to celebrate with you. I was constantly running off to take care of a sad Rafa only to come back to you lying on the floor just staring at nothing. I almost cried.
Instead, I worked hard and finally I convinced you to leave the house. I have been promising to get you French fries on your birthday all week long (you ask for French fries nearly every day. Thank God we live near McDs or you might forget to do so!), so we put on a birthday dress and glasses and headed out. This dress is your new favourite-it has hiding foxes and a pocket that goes all the way through!
At McDs we met a little girl dressed as Queen Elsa and you guys were instant friends, even if she was a bit bigger than you. We stayed for two hours while you and Queen Elsa played in the playground and the mummies just chatted, the way we do. You cried real big fat tears when we finally left to get Rafa into some AC.
But your run-in with Queen Elsa was exactly what you needed. When we got home again, your mood had perked up 100%. And the best part was that Sanny and Pop Pop were almost there!
They played with you and Rafa (and mama), and then we had your favourite: buttered "swirly-whirly pasta".
Followed by a cake you'd been begging to get into all day long. It was covered in your favourite sweet thing: m&ms.
This is what approval looks like:
All that finished off with a few more presents to open. I'd say you had a pretty good day. You're one happy 3 year old.
We celebrated your third birthday a bit early in Disney World. You loved it so much you were on your best behaviour except when it came time to leave. Then we had proper tears. Mickey kept harping on about dreams coming true. I'm pretty sure your dream was to move into Cinderellas castle. Then we'd never have to leave.
The first day of Disney started with a cuddle.
We got you ready according to your wishes: Belle costume, gold crown, Nike running shoes. We took a picture while Rafa waited patiently on the bed for us to stop flaffing about and get going.
After a bit of debate we decided to drive to The Magic Kingdom. Mama and Papa were worried about getting stuck there if we took a shuttle from the hotel and neither one of us really knew what we were in for, so we packed up and took off in our own wheels.
After the GPS tried to lead us into the service entrance for the third time, we gave up and drove into a hotel parking lot. The gate keeper couldn't quite explain how to get to the real parking lot other than "watch for signs" so he felt bad for us idiotic parents and let us park at the hotel for free. Which is pretty great because you were just about giving up on believing us about getting to see Cinderellas castle.
We walked over to the Magic Kingdom and collected our passes right away. I gave you a Minnie Mouse pass and watched you get so excited before you even knew what to be excited about. But you knew enough: this would be our ticket to happiness.
You also knew there would be some celebrity sightings inside of course. First stop, Tinkerbell. We had FastPass booked both days so we barely waited in queues and it wasn't terribly busy anyway. At Tinkerbelle you walk right into PixieHollow and you're surrounded by lost things. You paid no mind to all of that but starred at Tinkerbelle as another little girl met her. You couldn't take your eyes off of her, but you weren't quite sure what to do with her when you got to speak with her one on one. You hugged me close instead.
Papa took you to see Mickey next.
Rafa and I went into a shop to get you your very own autograph book while you did that. You loved getting the princesses to autograph your book, then give you a cuddle. Even if you were a bit shy. We spotted Aurora before we even left the town square (the entrance) and you got your first signature.
Then you got to see the real live Cinderella castle. Despite the look on your face in this photo, I'm pretty sure it was living up to your expectations because there was a parade happening in front of it and right after, a live show with all the princesses.
You sat down and waited for the show while I fed Rafa.
Then more and more people came and you and Papa stood up to watch while I remained seated in the middle of the floor feeding Rafa. Oh well.
We ate lunch at Gaston's tavern. Papa showed you how to eat meat like a proper boy.
As we left, Gaston was signing autographs next door. You squealed "I don't want to marry Gaston!" and hid your eyes so he wouldn't see you.
Next you met Anna and Elsa. Good thing we booked FastPass there, because even though it was pretty mild in the Magic Kingdom, just about every other little girl in the place was dressed as Elsa. And those that weren't Elsa, were Anna.
We rode the magic clamshells of Ariels undersea adventure and afterwards, your Papa took you to meet Ariel in person. You got to join her on the clamshell. Pretty cool if you ask me.
Then came the moment we were waiting for. We left Papa and Rafa to walk in the rain and entered Belle's house. We walked into an interactive story, which you silently partook in by clapping your hands to your knees to gallop the horse. First you learn the story and then you go into Belles' library and tell her the story. So we did. You sat front and centre and at the end, the usher asked you to go to the front to meet Belle and get a photo. You were the first one she asked (because you were so well dressed I'm sure), but you had no idea what to do. You shuffled your feet to the wall and stood there. Facing the wall. Waiting.
Then, with a bit of courage, you turned around.
Finally, Belle called you over and you walked, snail-pace, to her. She asked you some questions and fluffed about you, to which you replied silence and stone face. She commented on your beautiful dress and so you sat, like her, and tried to lay out your dress like hers, which of course I thought was adorable, but Belle wanted you to stand for the photo, so you did: head down, still silent.
When you left Belle to come to me, you said, "I met Belle and she liked my nails!" Though you'd forgotten to show her your nails until then and when you realised it you seemed kind of glum. So we went out to get Papa and Rafa and some ice cream and then hit Belle up for round two. Besides, Rafa had yet to see a princess up close.
This time you knew the score, and even though you were still playing the deer in headlights role, you came out much happier.
And in the end, we got to admire your Belle nails a lot on our own in the hotel room. Together. And that's what really matters.