Balancing my time well when traveling with Athena can be difficult. She needs time during the day to nap, she needs to eat regular meals, she needs more time to get from place to place, and she needs to be back at the hotel by 8 pm to go to bed. It’s a different kind of travel but it’s filled with it’s own type of rewards. During our stay at Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas, she has been an excellent traveler with few complaints even when were out past her bedtime or when she’s missed an afternoon nap. She was calm when we waited several extra hours on the runway in Charlotte; she was patient when we were driving in L.A.’s rush hour traffic; and she was happy to meet the cast of Extra even though she has no idea who they are. It was her time to experience the rewards of Newport Coast Villas so yesterday’s time was completely dedicated to toddler-friendly activities. Surprisingly, I had as much fun as Athena. When she’s happy, I’m happy.
Waking up at 4 am has been the biggest challenge of the trip. Still not fully adjusted to the west coast time, Athena is waking up between 4 and 5 am daily. I wish that I could just adjust and go to bed earlier but it’s been a struggle on my end as well. 1 am nights don’t go well with 4 am mornings but Athena is so pleasant when she wakes up that’s it’s been bearable. The other problem with 4 am mornings it that there is not a lot to do when it’s still dark out. I wanted to be positive, though, and make the day about her so I made the best of it.
We started our day with a bubble bath in our bathing suits. The sand bucket and the shovel made for good tub toys and we splashed for at least an hour before drying off. Athena didn’t want to take her bathing suit off so I used the blow dryer to warm her up and we just left them on.
After breakfast, we watched Mickey Mouse Club House for an hour before going for a walk. Most guests at the resort were still in bed so we had free range of the property. Our first stop was the playground. The sun was just coming up and warming the slides.
Athena found her favorite slide and she was adventurous enough to go down without me. I don’t know when she changed from a newborn to a child. I almost cried when she let go of my hand and pushed her hands on the side of the slide to go faster. When people say, “don’t blink” they really are right.
The basketball courts are up the hill from the playground and Athena noticed a ball on the ground. She made her way up the hill and we played basketball. I think that my love of sports is already wearing off on her and I was proud when she threw the ball above her head.
Scheduled events started at 9 am with a movie in the theater room. Child-friendly, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2“ was playing; although Athena doesn’t sit through an entire movie, I thought it would be fun to watch for as long as it held her attention.
We only stayed for 20 minutes but it was enough time for me to get interested. I’ll most likely watch the entire movie when she goes to bed some evening. Even as an adult, I still love children’s movies.
Outside of the movie theater is a surf board mounted to a large plastic wave. I don’t know why Athena loved it so much but I couldn’t get her off it it. Between that and the gigantic swimming pool, we filled the better part of our day.
We made sure to be at the Koi Pond for the Family Welcome that included a treasure chest full of toys (Athena chose a coloring book), drink samples, munchies, and dancing mascots. In her red Minnie Mouse bathing suit, Athena danced and shook her booty with a shark and starfish. She was smiling from ear to ear when the shark spun her around and she kept saying, “Awwwww I love you Sharky.”
Build a Buddy was also high on the priority list. We filled a polar bear with stuffing and love and Athena named him Newport; we have the certificate to prove it. She chose three different color markers and we put dots all over his t-shirt to finish his attire. Athena is sleeping peacefully with Newport and he is part of the family now.
Topping off the day with a sunset dinner on the patio, Athena and I were both exhausted. It didn’t take long for her to fall asleep and I wasn’t too far behind her.
Maybe Athena won’t remember our day together or that I tried to make it all about her, but it is shaping the young lady that she is becoming. When I see her interact with new people, she is polite, funny,and thoughtful already. She shares with other children, chats with adults, and recognizes love. Her small moments throughout the day like saying, “awwww; I love you Sharky” or sharing her bucket with another child in the pool show me the importance of our unique experiences and our relationship together. I’m already a proud mother and I look forward to the beautiful girl that she is becoming. Yesterday was a celebration of that.
This was just the beginning of our life in California. To read more of our family-fun in Southern California, check out our 40 Family-Fun Things to Do in Southern California.