Thursday, November 14, 2013

Municipal Park

Daddy/Daughter Date Night: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs II


Ever since Brooke and I found out that we were going to have a baby girl, I have thought about the first time that I would take her to the movies... just Daddy and daughter. I suppose it's because I love movies so much, but it was always something (in my mind) that was going to be very special. I realize that taking your child to the movies is not really that "big of a deal", but it kinda was for me.

I thought about what it would be like to hold her hand as we walked into the theater. 

I thought about what it would sound like when she told the person behind the glass the name of the movie we wanted to see.

I thought about buying her popcorn, Coke, and candy, and sharing those things with her as she sat up in her seat, right beside me.

I thought about how wide her eyes would get when she saw the movie on that big screen, and how she would smile and squeal when she saw her favorite characters for the first time on that scale.

I even thought about how much fun it would be to talk to her in the car on the way to the theater. 

Since my oldest daughter, Ava was born, I have looked forward to this event and have waited patiently for the right time, hoping that the actual experience would come at least somewhat close to what I had envisioned.

Most things that have 3+ years of "build-up" or "hype" turn out to be a disappointment, but today was different.

When I found out that "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" was only playing at the theater until the end of this week, I knew that this was my chance. Ava LOVES the first movie, and since she is talking and sitting still (for the most part) now, I figured I wouldn't get a better opportunity. 

So we planned a date for today. And we've talked about it every day for almost a week.

After Ava woke up from her nap today, I heard her talking quietly to herself (as usual). I came into the room, greeted by her huge smile and said, "Are you ready for our date?" She smiled widely and excitedly said "Yes!" as she began to jump up and down a little bit in the crib. As I dressed her in her clothes, we talked about some of the characters that we would see at the movies ("Baby Brint", "Flint Lockwood", "Sam Sparks", etc.), and we both talked about how excited we were.

We kissed Mom goodbye, put the car seat into Daddy's car, buckled up, put on some music from "Shrek", and we were off to the theater:)

On the way, we talked about movie theater etiquette and the fact that there might be other people there, so we might have to whisper when we talked to each other. We talked about what she wanted for dinner: hot dog or nachos (she chose the hot dog, obviously:) We talked about how loud it would be in the theater and whether she wanted to sit in her seat or in my lap. Just like I had imagined.

As we walked up to the ticket booth, there was no one else in line. I told Ava to tell the lady what we wanted to see and she quickly replied, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2!!" The lady working behind the glass, who looked anything BUT happy when we walked up, smiled as she handed Ava her first movie ticket. We walked into the theater, hand in hand. Just like I had imagined.

We went up to the snack bar together and, once again, there was no one else in line. We ordered our food, sampled the popcorn together as we waited for our hot dogs, and then walked towards the ticket-tearer. It was one of the only times in my life that I didn't give a single thought to what that food was costing me. There was no one standing behind the ticket-tearing counter, and I suppose we could have just walked in, but I wasn't going to be robbed of the experience.

So we waited. 

Finally, a very nice lady came over to us, took the ticket from Ava's little hand and tore it, and then offered to take our picture together. I'm a grown man, but it was all I could do not to cry as I realized that I was finally taking my little girl to the movies. 

Ava said, "Have a good day!" to the lady who tore our ticket, and we walked all the way down the theater hallway, hand in hand, to theater number 4.

She smiled and giggled as we walked in and saw how big the screen was (even though it was the smallest one in the theater, it was huge to HER:) and we chose our seats.

We were the only two people in the theater:) 

We watched previews, ate our hot dogs, shared popcorn and Coke Zero, and waited patiently for our movie to start. 

When the movie started, Ava immediately recognized all of her favorite characters from the first "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" movie, and squealed with delight as she called their names and pointed at them, individually. I'm not sure which one of us was happier:)

She ate her entire hot dog, her entire bag of popcorn (with a little help from Dad, but not much), her bag of candy, half of Daddy's candy, and several kids'-cups-full of Coke Zero without taking her eyes off of the screen.

We talked back and forth freely, without having to worry about disturbing anyone. 

We laughed together at the funny parts of the movie.

I put my arm around her as we shared popcorn.

I kissed her on the cheek when I was feeling particularly emotional and whispered "I love you" into her ear. She whispered back, "I love you too."

We even walked down to the floor of the theater and danced together during a couple of the songs (just like we do at home), at her request.

Later in the movie, she told me that her tummy was hurting (surprise, surprise...). I asked her if she wanted to sit in my lap and let me rub her tummy and she said yes. So I began to rub her very tight tummy, and she began to pass gas on my lap.

I said, "Ava, did you go poop?" 

She said "No." 

I said, "Did you toot?"

She said, "No."

I said, "It smells like you tooted."

She thought for a moment and said, "I did. But it didn't talk." Strangely, I knew exactly what she meant. And I laughed.

Shortly after this exchange she told me that she needed to go to the bathroom to poop, so we began walking down the hall to the restroom. Halfway there, she said, "I don't need to go poop anymore. I want to go back and watch the movie. I can go poop later." I'm not sure what I was thinking when I said, "Ok", but I took her back into the theater.

5 minutes later, the entire room was filled with the distinct impression that "later" had come and Ava's diaper. 

She said, "Daddy, I went poop. Will you change my diaper?" Since I had foolishly forgotten to bring diapers, I said, "We'll have to go home to change your diaper." She said, "Then we will come right back here?" I said, "No, when we leave, we won't get to come back." She didn't like that idea.

So we stayed. 

We stayed until the movie was over, the credits had rolled, the post-credits scene had played, and the screen was black. Then we walked out, together, hand in hand. She looked at me as we walked out and said, "Daddy, I had a great time."

"I did too, honey. I did too."

I thank my God for my children, and even though going to the movies may not seem like much to other people, I thank Him for today. I will always remember it. I will save the ticket for the rest of my life and although there will be more "important" moments and events in our lives, I will cherish this one forever.

Thank you for letting me share it with you:)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Leaving TN

As our trip wound down, we did a few small things before we left:

 We always drive through the tunnel and honk :)

We let the girls ride the carousel at the outlets one last time

And then we made our way home. We stopped at a Georgia rest stop with the girls so we could take a potty break and smell the flowers :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Oconaluftee Visitor Center, North Carolina

We stayed an extra day in Tennessee so that our family could rest a little bit before our trip back home. On the Thursday before we came back home, we decided to drive into Cade's Cove :) You may wonder why I put a smiley face at the end of that last sentence. Well, it is because we got lost. We zigged when we should have zagged, as the Park Ranger said. We ended up in North Carolina. Oh well, no big deal. We went to the famed Oconaluftee Visitor Center :) Ha! It is now famous with us! 

When I finally convinced Jeremy that we were lost, we stopped at the nearest place we found (the Oconaluftee Visitor Center) and I went inside for directions. The park ranger showed me on a map that we were 1.5 hours out of our way but that we should just spend a few hours looking around the visitor's center since we were already here. Jeremy did not want to stay. When he found out we had gone the wrong way, he wanted to turn back around and head back to the hotel. I coaxed him into walking around the little village with the girls. He will never understand why I like the things I like :) 

The path up to the old village was really pretty so I took a photo. The photo doesn't do it justice :)

This little stinker was so mad because I asked her to turn around and smile for the camera. Neither one of my children enjoy taking pictures.

This little booger wanted her daddy's Coke Zero so bad! We didn't give it to her of course!

When we got back to the visitor center, Greta fell in love with this little grizzly! She kept going up to it and hugging it. It was so sweet!

Farewell Smokies!! On the way back into Gatlinburg, I got Jeremy to pull over at a scenic overlook so I could take one last picture. Until next year, Lord willing...