Thursday, April 14, 2016

Having a Hoppy Good Birthday

I awoke to Charlie banging and cursing downstairs. Not the best way to begin one's birthday. At least the weather was gorgeous. In honor of the day, I read three American Girl birthday-themed stories. In Happy Birthday, Addy!, Addy makes friends with a kind older woman who lives in the same boarding house as her family. She has difficulty helping her friend because of the color of her skin, but her friend reminds her that prejudice doesn't need to hold you back. Did excerpts from Happy Birthday, Kit (Kit's Aunt Millie's "Penny Pincher Party" turns out to be far more fun than anyone expected) and Happy Birthday, Samantha (Sam's looking forward to her fancy party with her new friends and cousins Agnes and Agatha, until the nasty boy next door Eddie makes trouble).

Ran two cartoons about very busy birthdays while eating breakfast. The original World of Strawberry Shortcake takes place on the title character's sixth birthday. Strawberry thinks the other kids have forgotten her big day. They have a surprised planned...but so does the Peculiar Purple Pieman, who is determined to rain on her berry parade.

The final episode of The Yogi Bear Show revolved around Yogi's birthday. The sponsor wants to have a big surprise birthday party for Yogi on TV. Ranger Smith tells Yogi he's going to be on a variety show. Yogi thinks he actually has to perform, but it's really just a gathering of the Hanna Barbera funny animal crew to wish him the happiest of days.

Headed to the PNC Bank first after the cartoons ended. I wanted to follow up on a suggestion Rose made last year and start a second savings account for "fun" things, like vacations and large electronics. I put some of the money Dad gave me yesterday in the new account. It took a few minutes to do. I keep meaning to update my ID, but you have to go into Camden to do that. You couldn't pay me to go into that town on my own or on the bike, no matter what Rose says. Thankfully, the lady was able to get my updated information from my other account. I even got a really nice bag to carry my paperwork in.

Stopped quickly at Walgreens for change and a Sparkling Pomegranate Berry Soda, then rode down to the Haddon Township Library to pick up the bus to the Cherry Hill Mall. The bus was empty except for one or two other people, and there was absolutely no traffic by 11. The ride was uneventful and quick.

Wandered around the Cherry Hill Mall for an hour or so after I got in. They weren't that busy at first, either. It was the middle of a Thursday. I rather badly needed new work pants and two packs of socks on sale at JC Penney's. At least four pairs of my socks have worn out in the past month. Found the most adorable little bright blue chick on clearance at Build-a-Bear. She got an outfit with a tutu-skirt and a tank top that says "love," too. Bought Sea Salt Citrus hand soap at Bath and Body Works. Grabbed the iced tea sample at Teavana. Explored the Lego Store, the Disney Store, Layne Bryant, Fashion to Figure, and Jay Street Games, but found nothing of interest.

Headed out to Cherry Hill's "Restaurant Row," a line of fancy eateries hugging the back end of the Mall alongside Nordstrom's, for lunch. There were a couple to choose from, but I finally opted for Bahama Breeze. I hadn't had seafood in ages. They were basically a more tropical-themed Red Lobster, with the same emphasis on cocktails and seafood. I forwent the former in favor of iced tea, coconut shrimp, and the simple house salad. I wish there had been more than four coconut shrimp with the meal for the price paid, but at least they were nice and big and very crunchy. (Oddly, despite the windows being open, the veranda I sat on was very hot by the entrance and the bar. I don't know if they still had the heat on, or if it was the kitchen, or what.)

Went over the pedestrian bridge and straight to Target next. My big find there was the last Ever After High doll currently available that I wanted but hadn't been able to find, Melody Piper. I also picked up a birthday present for Khai, Herbal Essences conditioner, and those delicious coconut-covered marshmallows.

Cherry Hill's movie theater, Lowes 24, is right next-door to the Hillview Shopping Center. I made my way around the fence separating the two and headed right for theater. After enjoying my experience seeing The Force Awakens in theaters back in January, I decided one of my New Year's resolutions was to catch more movies I was dying to see in the theater. I got there at 3. Even with buying popcorn and playing Fast and the Furious: Continental Drift (I was the pink car), I was still over a half-hour early for the 4 PM showing of Zootopia. I arrived so early, I got to see the credits from the previous showing.

Lowes isn't quite as nice as the theater at Sommerdale. The seats are smaller and not as comfortable, and there's far less legroom. This turned out to be a moot point, since I was the only one in the theater the entire time. (Unless one counts Melody Piper, the stuffed chick, and the one guy who came in to sweep up between showings.) In fact, I believe I was the only person in the entire building at 4 PM who wasn't an employee or a toy. I plopped down in the wide aisle intended for the handicapped and proceeded to do everything AMC said not to do during a showing - talk to the screen and on the phone (Mom called to wish me a happy birthday about half-way through the film), not turn off my cell phone, and generally behave like...well, like I was the only person in the building.

The movie was just as much fun. Zootopia is Disney's latest big animated epic. In a world where predatory animals and their regular prey live in harmony, Judy Hops (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a hare who is determined to become the first small mammal in Zootopia's police department. Yes, she's tiny and cute compared to the big rhinos and oxen who mostly populate the station, but she's also tenacious, intelligent, and speedy. She's first given a meter maid job, but when a poor female otter (Octavia Spencer) is begging for someone to help her find her husband, she quite literally leaps into the case. She eventually gets help from fast-talking con artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), whom she attempted to arrest for fraud earlier. It turns out that there's far more to this seemingly simple case than either Judy or Nick suspect...and it could have vast implications for Zootopia and its simmering mix of breeds and races.

Disney's animated winning streak continues. This has gotten some of their best reviews since Frozen. After Rose and Linda Young gave it glowing reviews of their own, I had to see it. They're right - this is a funny, thoughtful ride that deals with some difficult questions on racism, what one wants do vs what one should do, and following one's dreams despite incredible odds. As Rose pointed out, violence and the relatively mature subject matter makes this one for older kids on up, despite the cute animals. She says she probably got more out of it than 6-year-old Khai.

It was very late when I headed out, almost 6 PM, and I was tired. Made a quick stop back at the Cherry Hill Mall to try red velvet and Nutella macarons (the recently-popular French sandwich cake-cookie) before hopping on the 6:25 bus and heading home. There was a little traffic near Cooper River Park, but the bus wasn't too late. I made a very quick stop at WaWa for a turkey hoagie on my way home. I was now too pooped to even make leftovers.

Ran one final birthday-themed cartoon while I ate. "Mickey's Birthday Party" becomes pretty wild when Donald dances with Clara Cluck and Goofy's attempts at making a cake turn Minnie's kitchen into a disaster area!

I got Melody Piper out while chatting with Lauren. Melody is Ever After High's premier DJ, the daughter of the Pied Piper. Unlike a lot of her fellow students, this music-loving lass doesn't crave the spotlight. She's happier putting together song mixes that'll send all the kids' feet tapping. Melody has a rather odd, puckered face, and her wavy white-purple hair was a mess coming out of the box and shed badly. I think I'm going to need to wash the bangs, too. On the other hand, she's one of the few dolls from the previous round to come with some decent accessories, including her own turntable.

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