It really is the Happiest Place On Earth. Or, as my mother says, "The Merriest Place on Earth."
Husband got some much needed rest. Birdie got some time with the two of us and I got to ride Space Mountain. It was so easy to fall back into step with the three of us and "go and do" as we once did when we lived in a teeny tiny apartment within our nation's capital.
We remembered why we had kids. We remembered how great it is to be a family. We remembered to smile more.
To say we are stressed is comical. Husband is working, I am working, the kids are getting picked up and dropped off left to right. It's a fun life, and I appreciate it-- butttttttttttt we realized that we had forgotten to have the fun that we love so much.
We made up for lost time. This was the first time since before we were married that Husband has had a week off.
The long and the short of it is that I am so glad that we saved for this trip, setting aside money each month so that we could pay for it "in cash." When we packed up and came home, all we had were our memories, pictures, and not a single bill. Last thing, to pay for this trip ourselves (which wasn't cheap) made both of us proud that we could do this for our first born. OK, I'm done patting myself on the back.
A few things I noticed and have said to myself to remember for the future:
-- bring a dirty clothes hamper. It made the room so much cleaner.
-- we saved, ahem, over a thousand dollars by eating breakfast in the room and packing either a large snack or lunch. Every day at the parks, we bought either lunch or a snack. We went to incredible dinners at night that were over the top and incredibly decadent.
-- we saved more than I care to share by bringing our own alcohol.
-- If your kid still takes a bottle, a sippy cup, isn't potty trained, or cannot stay up past 8pm-- don't go. Save yourself and your kid the agony. Who wants to schlep diapers, wipes, and bottles for a kid who can't ride 3/4 of the rides and won't remember it anyway? Not this girl. #MOTY
-- We saw more kids crying and up way past any practical bedtime. It made me sad for the little ones, but thankful that they would not remember it.
-- we stayed within walking distance of EPCOT. That did not come cheap, but was it worth it? You bet your sweet face it was. We went to EPCOT every day to walk around the world, ride a few rides, see the fireworks, whatever. It made the trip so different than if we were staying farther than that and needed to make a plan to go into a park and stay in the park.
-- Speaking of, we stayed for a solid week. Before we went, my brother simply asked, "WHY?!" Now I know why. When Birdie got tired, and she did get tired, we did not feel bad about calling it a day. When we went to the Animal Kingdom and were done by noon, we happily headed back to the hotel and spent the afternoon by the pool. We never had to push through. When we left, we felt like we had had a relaxing vacation. We retuned refreshed and ready to start the next day, instead of exhausted and needing a day to catch our breath.
-- If the Seven Dwarves Mine Train has a long wait, which it will, skip it. Seriously. Big Thunder Mountain is longer, more fun, and typically has a shorter line.
-- If you have a daughter, do NOT skip Belle's Enchanted Tales. It's kinda magical!
-- SKIP Disney Springs. Let me repeat myself, SKIP Disney Springs. We saw all kinds of advertisements for it and thought it would be a great place to shop and hang out one afternoon. It wasn't. It was crowded, gross, a little red on the neck, and not a place we opted to indulge much time.
-- I grew up going to Disney World. In the early days, we stayed in Kissamee, which is about twenty minutes outside of Disney World. We have stayed in the kingdom. I even gave up going to my senior prom so that I could go to Disney World. When I say that I have been to Disney World, I have been -- at least-- 15 times. The last time was right after Brother and SIL were married, so ... maybe ten years? nine? I can remember a lot of things about Disney, but a lot has changed. I say that to say this: a friend recommended using someone who plans Disney Trips for a living. I would not call this person a travel agent, because she specializes in Disney- but you call her what you want, I call her a godsend. Susan walked me through fast passes, dinner reservations, hotel details- all those things you don't think about. She checked in with me during the trip, followed up afterwards, and was completely available when I had questions from the park. Will I use her again now that I have been? Uh... yeah. She made me look smart, and that goes a long way.
-- We will be back. It will be a few years, but the other two deserve a trip, too. Oh? You didn't know that we left them home? Yeah-- we were those parents. And it was totally worth it.