A bit late in coming, but here is a brief pictorial recap of a totally awesome day: Cadence's 3rd Birthday!
It was painfully hard to narrow it down, but there were tons of other pics, to...thus I keep it to a minimum.
Anyway, the first act of unsolicited kindness of the day took place right at said bus stop...a couple of very nice folks, after talking to Cadence briefly, discovered that it was her birthday and gave her:
Her very own dollar! She was actually remarkably pleased and grateful (even said thank you with ENTHUSIASM!) the troubled expression is simply the product of the latest phase of 'not smiling' in posed pictures. I asked her to hold it up and smile - she held it up, said "no." and held that frown until I put the camera away. The headless folks in the background are the awesome folks who helped kick off her day in a big way. I was very grateful to them for helping to add a little magic to the day!
We went downtown and walked Charlie, as we always do, and of course had a lot of good fun puppy time. Then we caught a bus uptown and, after a joyous ride which involved singing to people and getting tons of sweet birthday wishes, made a stop Cadence has been asking for and looking forward to for weeks: The Natural History Museum, to "see the dead dinosaurs!!"
We had many awesome little experiences on our way in...and can I just say, I am SO impressed with the security guards at the museum? They ended up playing a significant role in making this day such a rioting success, you'll see more of why in a minute.
The first guard we encountered welcomed us heartily and, while we waited for the elevator, he made sounds for Cadence's amusement...trains, rain, various creatures...She loved it, and he got major props for birthday salutes...and he even threw in some compliments, and mentioned that she looked like his own daughter, who, he proudly proclaimed, is also half chinese and about to graduate from Harvard.
Next stop was the ticket kiosk thingy...I didn't want to spend any more than necessary since we were on a very tight budget, however we had a very certain destination within the museum, so I figured better safe than sorry, and asked the security guard stationed at the entrance what level ticket I'd need to just take her to see the dinosaurs. She started to tell me, then stopped, looked at cadence, and waved us on through. Cadence thanked her and said what a nice birthday present...it was very cute.
We spent a long time in there, I let Cadence lead the way, and she gleefully rushed from one display to the next, and then back again, big ones little ones, asking questions, making huge excited gestures when she came across something familiar...
The photo below, for example, is of an archaeopteryx...an ancient bird that was once featured on dinosaur train. Cadence was so thrilled! She was telling me all about them, and I cannot tell you how amazing it is to be schooled in paleontology by your just-now-3-year-old.
The Photo below was taken by the Cadie Ladie herself. She's getting really good with the camera, the framing is consistently good...focus is a bit off here, but shooting through dirty glass is always a challenge.
After a while, we ended up, where else, but in the gift shop. She poked around a bit and I told her that she could choose one small thing to get as a birthday gift, if she so desired.
She chose a small bucket full of plastic sea creatures...whales, sharks, dolphins, rays...she was SO HAPPY and proud of it, and wanted to carry it all by herself and not put it in the bag.
We kept exploring for a bit after that, and found ourselves wandering to the other side of the floor before announcements started blaring warning visitors to get the heck outta dodge 'cause the doors were being locked.
I'm not sure exactly what happened, all I know is that somehow, my poor sweet little birthday girl tripped, hit the floor, and her precious bucket smashed and broke into pieces on the floor.
It was devastating.
A crowd of good samaritans gathered as I scooped her anguished little body off the floor...she was fine, but her present...well, a family helped her gather all the sea creatures and put them in the paper bag, while trying to reassure her that they were all fine, but I knew the real disappointment couldn't be remedied...she'd wanted that bucket. The animals were awesome, but that bucket...oh, the possibilities with that bucket!
To her rescue came another security guard, who's name I sadly didn't catch, but who I think was the unopposed hero of the day. Here's why:
He came over, made sure she was ok, talked to her briefly about what the problem was, and swiftly said "well then we'll get you another one" and after checking with me to make sure it was ok, he took her hand and lead her over to the nearest gift shop, which was just lowering the gate. He stopped them, explained the situation, and while quite sympathetic, the manager there informed us that those buckets were only sold in the gift shop we'd purchased it from, on the other side of the floor!!! There was no way we were gonna make it.
But then, this guard, our hero of the day, looks at Cadence, then looks at me, and says "We can do this. Follow me!" And he scooped Cadence up and took off at a run, pulling out his radio as we went...there we were, in a truly cinematic dash through the closing museum, the guard on his radio shouting "this is 17, this is 17 OPEN THAT DOOR!" and magically making locked doors open before us as other bewildered guards trundled after us...there we went, taking a short cut through one of their special exhibits that you need separate tickets to see, zooming through the maze of its twists and turns, he was on the radio the whole time and shouting we "can make it! we can make it!" as we went, and we finally arrived at the closed and gated gift shop, nearly deserted, empty but for one older man, who was just on his way out the door...Our guard urgently called to the guard on the other side "unlock this door unlock this door and tell that gentleman to HOLD he is not to leave the store!" There was a flurry of activity and the gate sprung open, he and Cadence dashed through ahead of me, and I arrived at the counter just as the Guard was finishing his story to the rather stunned older man. My heart was pounding and an excited anticipation was coursing through my veins as I realized holy crap, we made it!
But then I heard what the older gentleman was saying.
He was saying "No."
"Please, sir, I'm willing to pay for another bucket!" He looked at me, He looked at his closed register, he looked at Cadie and the slightly winded guard, and relented, somewhat grudgingly, but he reopened his register and let us buy another bucket.
(Here's our friend, the awesome guard, talking to his colleagues about our adventure after leading us back through the now entirely locked floor so we could get out.)
What an amazing thing to have happen, to have so many wonderful people to step in and help out our little girl. I was so incredibly grateful, and so was Cadence, who took several hours to really process what had happened but then talked about it nonstop for days.
Here is another shot Cadence took of Hazel and I with a dinosaur...she's getting so good at using the camera!
After our mad dash, we planned to go splash around in the fountain outside the museum, alas, it was also closed, so we sat in the park for a bit instead. There were other kids there! Amazing!!
She ran and played in that park for hours, playing ball, hide and seek, and a bunch of games I couldn't figure out but they seemed to enjoy...
Cadence ate some more of her bagel from lunch, but dropped a bit of it on the ground. It ended up being a happy accident, as far as she was concerned, because it drew a crowd of sparrows and pigeons. She spent a significant chunk of time trying to catch a bird. Childhood bliss.
Once the sun began to set, we headed over to the shake shack uptown for her birthday dinner. She was in such a good mood, despite being hungry, and managed to totally charm the folks working there; without even knowing that it was her birthday, one of the women working there asked me "do you think she'd like a custard? Just a small one? with sprinkles?" and thus Cadence got a free (really amazing) frozen custard (for those unacquainted: really rich amazing ice cream), with sprinkles, at one of her favorite restaurants. What a perfect end to a really amazing birthday. Another wonderful, sweet, generous person to add to a long list of benefactors that helped to make this birthday super special for a very deserving, patient, kind, and wise-beyond-her years little lady. Thank you thank you thank you to you all.
After that, we sang songs while waiting for the bus, and Cadence got to play/sing/talk to some other kids on the bus, before finally getting home and getting to see Baba, and tell him all about the wonderful adventure.
Happy birthday, wonderful bug. We love you, oh so much. Here's to another jam-packed year of new adventures!