So we went on a vacation. It was roughly 17 years ago.
Gosh, as we’re approaching the END of February (can I get an amen), I find myself thinking, where did the last 4 months go?! It has been forever since I blogged about anything of significance (you know, my children). It’s funny, I chose to stop writing at a time when I had so many things to talk about! I had all of these amazing things happening in October – January, and I went into a writers block of sorts. I wasn’t even sure how to process it all. But I believe I feel myself coming out of it. I’ve got the writing itch again, and I have lots to say. I’m going to start with our vacation, because that’s pretty much where I dropped off the blogging planet.
It still baffles me that I haven’t (really) written since before we went on vacation. That was the vacation of vacations, and yet I couldn’t ever sit down and write about it. Perhaps I haven’t even been able to process it until now. In my defense, there was a birthday party we came home to. Then we had my grandma in town from Buffalo. Thanksgiving. We picked out a PUPPY. Christmas shopping. Christmas decorating. Christmas. A new year. It was a lot, and all at once. But now in the depths of winter, nothing makes me happier than the memories I have locked in my brain of that time we
WENT TO DISNEY WORLD.
I remember waking up the morning we left, and practically leaping out of bed. We had planned this trip since January. We had diligently saved our money so that we could say ‘no’ as little as possible. We had picked out key rides. We had dinner reservations. We had special dresses. Kyle was already down there for business, and all that stood between me and Mickey Mouse was getting my kids dressed, fed, through an airport, on an airplane, through another airport, into a car, and into the hotel. NBD. I was terrified, but I was so excited. I got myself ready as quietly as possible, and then as giddy as could be, walked up the stairs to tell Leah that today was the day! I woke her up, and she asked me if it was a school day. Ha.
“No, honey, it’s not a school day.”
“Today is the day we’re going to go to Disney World!”
Now, she lacked some enthusiasm, but she was half asleep. Once she came to her senses, it was game on. She wanted her suitcase, and her Cinderella dress. Check, check. Because I have the world’s best little travelers, we made it to sunny Florida without incident. No one cried, no one whined. Not even me. By the time we got to the hotel, I really just wanted to put my arms around Kyle. I got us into our room while he was in a cab to meet us. I was really excited to show him his littlest kid. Quinn was just starting to take steps, and it had only been four days since he had seen her, but he had missed a lot of her progress. But when he got to our room, I said, “check this out,” and she toddled her little self all the way to him (about 5 steps). It was just kind of the perfect way to be reunited. I was so happy to be together again, to have help with the little rats again, and to be on this vacation that we dreamed up for months.
If you’ve ever traveled with kids, you know that vacations aren’t really vacations. Even if it’s the happiest vacation of your life, your kids are still gonna throw fits. Someone will whine. They will need a snack when you don’t want to stop for one. They will have to go potty. You and your spouse will fight. Vacations, family vacations, are not all smiles. But I kind of
wanted needed this one to be as perfect as possible. So we had one rule: Leah would rule. Because if you go to Disney World, it just seems right that your kids should run the show. Knowing ahead of time that it wouldn’t be perfect actually helped it to be perfect. I don’t think Kyle and I fought one time. I tried really hard to keep myself in check. We never told Leah to hurry up, or slow down. If she wanted a snack, we stopped then and there. Whatever she wanted to ride, she rode.
Truth be told, in my perfect picture of Disney World, we would walk into all of it’s glory, head speedily past the throngs of people, and jump into Pooh Bear’s honey pot. After all, that was her number one ride. But when we actually entered the magic – there was so.much.pointing. From both girls. So we didn’t race back, we headed in the right direction, but we stopped at every Mickey Mouse adorned pumpkin so that Quinn could point and say, “DA!” And we stopped Cinderella’s castle for far longer than I wanted to as people rushed passed us – because, hello, it was THE castle. And Cinderella was on the wall. So we stayed and pointed and pointed. And we even stopped for family photos because, Lord knows, I was documenting this vacation 100%.
After much of the pointing was finished, we continued on to what I thought would be our first ride. But then she saw it… The Carousel. And naturally, because she saw it, she wanted to ride it. “But the honeyyyyy pot, sweetie!” Is what I wanted to say, but didn’t. I snapped myself back into, ‘this is Leah’s day’ mode, we parked the stroller, and we hopped on the carousel with no wait (because it’s a carousel).
And she was thrilled with her decision. So who am I to not let her ride a darn carousel. After the carousel, though, it was honey pot time. Before we knew it we were right outside the Hundred Acre Wood. And we rode it. And I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to miss her faces. And they are forever locked into my brain, and she had a hoot, but you guys… I learned something about my Leah while on this trip… She is an adrenaline junky. And she rode Goofy’s Barnstormer (roller coaster) with her dad over and over and over. And over. Aaaand over. The faster the better. The higher the better.
And I had a moment while they were riding over and over. I remembered being young and going to Darien Lake (six flags) with my family and riding the roller coasters with my dad. He made me go on my very first one, and I cried but I loved it. And I also remembered my mom would always wait for us at the end. I thought she was such a dud. (Love you, mom). She was scared of heights, and just couldn’t do the “fun stuff.” But me and my dad did them all. And here I was… And all Leah wanted was Kyle. I had to beg her just to ride it with her once. She obliged, I got motion sick, and Kyle took over again. We were all happier that way. I stayed with the Quinn, the stroller, the bags, the stuff. I waited at the end to hear how fast it was.
I WAS THE DUD!
This happened again later when she rode a REAL coaster, and STUCK HER HANDS IN THE AIR. I waited to hear how fast it was. I held the crap. I was the dud. But I loved being the dud. Maybe my mom did, too. Dads are supposed to be the crazy ones. I loved sending her off with her dad for all kinds of adventures. He’s a special one, for sure. And I think I loved him more than ever watching him navigate Disney World with Leah.
But then it happened.
For as much as she wanted to ride Pooh Bear’s ride, and as much as she loved roller coasters… she wanted to meet… CINDERELLA. She had her dress. She had her shoes. She had her crown. She had her bracelet. And it was time. (Thankfully, I suggested leaving the crown and shoes in my bag and she accepted).
It.was.time. I don’t really have words for that moment. But I know that this is the reason parent after parent practically sell their kidneys to buy a ticket to this park. When Leah met Cinderella, I lost it. This Cinderella, if I knew her name or address, I would send her gifts. She was the most sincerely caring character of the day – and boy did we need her to be sincere. It was magic. And I know it was magic because her rough and tumble dad had a little tear in his eye as well. 🙂
Just look at her face! She showed Cinderella her bracelet and said, “look! this is you on there!” And Cinderella ate it up. Leah was completely lost in the moment. And it was the coolest thing I’ve ever watched. Then Cinderella invited her to twirl…
And I was done. We could’ve left the park after that moment and every penny would’ve been worth it. Thankfully, we didn’t have to. We had a good 10 minutes with her, then it was time to say goodbye. Bucket list item numbers 1-100 – check.
For the rest of the time the first day, we just followed little Leah’s quick little legs. Quinn happily accompanied us in everything. We weaved in and out of people, bobbed in and out of stores, watched parades, and danced in street dance parties. We ate good food, better ice cream,
met some pals,
danced in the street some more,
continued to ride the carousel,
and in the spirit of ‘not saying no’ – left the park with $20 balloons.
It was everything I had hoped it would be. And probably lots more. There really is something to that whole, “most magical place on Earth” thing.
But there were still two more days for us!
(Stay tuned for part 2)… 🙂