Athena reached 12 weeks on Saturday and she spent that day in Disneyland, riding Astro Blasters, watching fireworks, swing dancing at Carnation Plaza, and getting her picture with a Storm Trooper.
Now, folks questioned the sanity of bringing a baby so young to Disneyland. Don't get me wrong - I had serious doubts myself. In fact, on Tuesday, we'd pretty much nixed the idea. So how did we get there? Well, it all starts with our friends being awesome.
Since I was burning all of my vacation for my maternity leave, and since after the first six weeks there's the bit where you have to take 2 weeks of straight vacation before you can continue your maternity leave (It's a weird Stanford rule. I've asked, but there's no answer as to why.), I really wanted to do something fun and vacation-y before going back to work. We'd originally thought of going to Vegas. We figured we could do some baby-friendly things like visit the lions and the aquarium and so forth. It would also be a dry run to try out the girl on a plane before going to Cape Cod around the holidays. Good in theory, but it turns out Vegas is less child-friendly than I'd thought. Many hotels won't even let you walk through with a stroller. So we killed that plan. Then I thought about Disneyland. The last time I was there, I was pregnant and couldn't ride a lot of things. So I researched hotels closest to the gate and figured out options and booked the Tropicana. We could cancel with 48 hours notice. Over the next couple of weeks, it started sounding like less and less of a good idea. But the desire to do SOMETHING before going back to work was really strong, but I couldn't think of anything else that sounded good. I was getting a little sad about it all, but it wouldn't be much fun one of us sitting with the girl and the other going off to ride something, then switching off.
Fast forward to last Wednesday. We pinged Kevin and Rachel about dinner at Aqui and as we were headed there from their place, Cyrus, Athena, and Lorelei strolled up. They said, "Headed to visit the mouse this weekend." We replied that it wasn't looking good. I hadn't been home long enough to cancel the reservation, but we'd pretty much decided against it. Heck, that was part of why we had time for dinner with Kev and Rachel - I wasn't packing for the weekend. We mused, "We decided it wouldn't be much fun unless we invited friends, but it's a little late for that, so unless y'all want to drop everything and run to Disneyland this weekend..." Athena looked at Cyrus and said something to the effect of, "You wanna?" There was some debate over other things on the calendar, but those turned out to be not actually happening. We said we'd be back after dinner to discuss further. We got the text message during dinner saying to come by and discuss details. By noon the next day, they had hotel reservations. I ran through the house packing during Athena's afternoon nap. We got up the next morning, had Athena's usual breakfast, playtime, and second breakfast, which is universally followed by a long nap if we let her. At naptime, we bundled her into the car and away we went!
Now, I know we are getting totally spoiled by our baby. She achieved new heights on this trip, exceeding all of my expectations. I figured this would be a long, tortured trip with many many stops and lots of crying. I figured there was some chance we'd give up and turn around. Instead, she slept til Coalinga, so we had a leisurely lunch at Denny's. We bundled back into the car and headed on. She fell right back to sleep. We blew past my next planned stop at Buttonwillow. Then we went over the Grapevine. She woke up around Castaic. We sat in the back and read books and played with her pinwheel. I figured we'd stop as soon as she got fussy or we hit traffic. Though it was 5 p.m., the traffic didn't get us til the big I-5/10/60 junction. Athena was still being easily entertained, so we rerouted down 710 to 91. About 25 miles short of the destination, Athena started melting down. I fed her a bottle, figuring we'd just cope with spit-up and burp her when we got there. She sucked it down and we made it and she burped all on her own. We arrived and got unloaded and her properly fed and then debated what next. After a bit of back and forth, we decided to head on into the park.
We made our way to the new Jolly Holiday Cafe for dinner. We had some of the best food we'd ever enjoyed in the park - a hot roast beef sandwich and a fabulous caprese sandwich. And by fabulous, I mean we had it again for lunch the next day. It was reasonably priced (same as I'd expect to pay anywhere around here) and really fresh and well made with fabulous balsamic vinegar. Then we watched the fireworks. We weren't sure how that would go, but there we were having dinner and Athena was snoozing. She slept through most of it. When she did wake up, she stretched and then watched the pretty lights in the sky. To close the night, we took her on the carousel, then walked back to go to bed.
The next morning we caught up to the Lendvays and figured out the mystery of a stroller pass. Turns out, for the four of us, you can get two fast passes, then get a stroller pass and get everyone through a ride pretty quickly. We ended up doubling down on fast passes, getting a pair for Indy and a pair for Space Mountain, but we never got around to Space Mountain on Saturday. We did get to go on Star Tours too. I was initially disappointed when we had Naboo as the planet, complete with Gungans, but there was a great effect with a sea monster grabbing the ship that made it all worth while. While Athena and I waited for for the boys to go through, she saw some storm troopers out for photos. We ran over and got pictures.
|Aw... baby's first brush with the Empire.|
|This probably means I'm a bad parent, but I LOVE this photo.|
|Isn't he just too dreamy!|
In general, we expected to have a slow day of lots of shows and not a lot of rides. Luckily, the girls are actually allowed on quite a few things (including Astro Blasters!) and we enjoyed the warm spring day. We enjoyed Dole Whip in the Tiki Room and rode Indy while Lorelei napped. As the day turned to evening and the temperature dropped, we opted to head back to the room for a change of clothes and freshening up. Returning to the park, we made our way to Carnation Plaza for swing dancing with Stompy Jones. Athena LOVED this.
|Lights and people and music! My favorites!|
First, Erik and I had a little turn on the floor with her in her Baby Bjorn. Then we took up watching while I fed her. Erik bumped into someone who said, "Wait! I know you. You go to Gaskell. What are you doing here?" She was visiting a friend in L.A., but promised to see us at Gaskell next weekend. Erik took a turn burping the girl and I managed to get a few photos of her as she watched the dancers. Lights, music, and people moving - this describes Athena's favorite things so she was rapt. The Lendvays opted to call it a night, so to close our evening, Erik and I walked over to Pirates. Athena started fussing just as we got on the boat, but as soon as we went over the first drop, she smiled like this was the best thing ever. My little thrill seeker! I couldn't help but laugh at her. I'd actually worried about her being really upset about the drops, but much like fast turns and freeway speeds, she loves a wild ride. We both laughed long and hard as she grinned madly after the second drop. She spent the rest of the ride nursing and then we trundled back to the hotel to settle in at her normal bedtime. She slept just like she does at home and woke up just before 9 a.m., whereupon we immediately informed her that she is the Best Baby Ever.
By 11 a.m. we were back in the park. We caught up to Cyrus and Athena at the Animation Studio in DCA. Lorelei was enchanted with the lobby. (I can't blame her - it's my favorite place in DCA too!) Then we all went to Turtle Talk with Crush. Athena and Cyrus had never seen it before, so even they were totally amazed. As we rounded the corner, it was just 10 minutes til Aladdin started, so we grabbed some great seats in the Mezzanine and watched the show. Athena spent much of it nursing quietly. Then we headed over to the wharf for lunch and then walked down the renovated boardwalk and put the boys on Soarin' Over California while Athena and I swapped tales of pregnancy, motherhood, and it's incumbent crazy-making side-effects. Prior to pregnancy, I'd had things I attributed to hormonal mood swings, but pregnancy and post-partum life set an entirely new standard for understanding that my opinions are not really my own and good golly can I cry at the smallest things! We caught up to the boys and hit Space Mountain before splitting up again so that the Lendvays could freshen up. Erik, Athena, and I hit Astro Blasters and due to a well-timed pause where Erik was right in front of Zurg, be broke the 999,999+ mark and became a Galactic Hero.
Upon the Lendvays' return, we got a great group photo, then rode the Storybook Canals and Small World before heading back to Pirates and getting dinner at the French Market (where they serve a lovely veggie gratin that you simply must refer to as "the pasta" or their staff get very confused). We listened to the end of Fantasmic and watched the fireworks. The Lendvays headed out since they had an early morning drive, and Erik and I switched off for one more ride on Space Mountain.
|Small Athena on Small World|
The next day after a quick stroll down Main Street, we piled back into the car and headed home. We opted to take 101 since there's still construction on I-5 northbound. We stopped for gas and lunch in Oxnard just as Athena woke from her morning nap, then stopped again for bathroom and coffee in Paso Robles as Athena roused once more. Leaving there, we ran out of formula and pumped breast milk, so we figured we'd have to stop again at Target to pick some up, but Athena snoozed all the way home, and even let us unpack the car before stirring. She really is the best baby ever.
The trip was just what I needed. We proved Athena can travel. We broke out of our current routine and she rolled with it. We put her into our world and she soaked it up and seemed happy to play along. And I got to coast along on Space Mountain, which always makes me happy as can be.