Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fear Not

 "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. "
-Isaiah 41:10

A couple weeks ago I sat curled up with my sweet boy in his bed. We'd read his Bible, talked about the day to come, and prayed together. As I was getting up to leave, he asked me what the weather was expected to be the next day. My heart sunk. 

The weather. 

Who would have thought it'd be a topic of contention? I mean, people talk about the weather all the time. It's the favorite topic of generations of men for as long as we can all remember. In our house, though, it's been a conversation riddled with fear. Deep. Dark. Fear.

It all started many months ago. Near the church we attend a home in an affluent community was struck by lightning. Much of the house burned. We drove by the house many times a week, and it was referred to by both of our kids as 'the house that was burned'. 

Since then, the house has been rebuilt. It stands firm. The people are well. The temporary replaced. It has long left our conversation. Until now. 

Somewhere between August and September our oldest has developed this unhealthy, irrational fear of fire, and somewhere in that ever thinking, overly-analytical mind of his, he's connected the dots. 

With rain comes lightning. With lightning comes fire. With fire comes fear. Lots and lots of fear. 

And there we sat in his bed, his innocent question bidding me to reassure him, begging me to protect him... his little, precious heart wondering, "Do I need to fear tomorrow, mommy?" 

And my heart breaks. He is mine. I was him. From the earliest age I can remember, I worried. Fear laced my days. Irrational fears. Rational fears. Worry. Anxiety. It was paralyzing. It kept me up at night. It keeps me up at night. It is paralyzing. And it hits me  - nothing - not a thing - my parents said or did could fix it. It plagued my heart, it seeped into every empty corner of my mind and consumed me. 

And I wasted empty breath as I explained to my sweet innocent boy, "The Lord is good. He wants what is best for us. It's highly unlikely our house will catch on fire, but God is always good." Knowing that no words could heal his heart or ease his mind. Knowing that when I shut the door behind me after twenty minutes of reassurance that he would listen for raindrops. He'd watch the sky. He'd ask, yet again, about the weather. 

And I prayed, "Lord, don't let him be like me." I begged, "DELIVER him from this! Let his life NOT be spent in fear." And I spouted my grievances, "It doesn't even make sense! There's - like - almost NO chance our house will catch fire! Why can't he believe us? Why can't he trust us?"

And ever quietly God answered...

"Why can't you believe me? Why can't you trust me?"

Because I've been lying awake at night. I've been petitioning my father with questions about the weather in my own life. I've been begging for reassurance. I've been wrestling. 

My fears are different. But are they really? Because with a loving Father who promises that God works together ALL things for good for those who love Him, what shall I fear? WHOM shall I fear? 

Every scripture I'd relayed to my sweet 6 year old came pouring through my own mind, God using my words to reinforce His. The desperation I felt for him to just trust me is the same God feels for me to just trust Him. And, is HE not the one who is trustworthy? Can HE not protect my son and I better than I ever could? Could HE not provide for us better than I? Could HE not deliver us from our fears, our anxieties, our pains, our SIN, not just this time - but forever? Is HE not the one who is able?

30 years. 30 years I've feared and worried. 30 years my own mother has pleaded with me not to worry, and it's come to this; seeing my sweet boy walk my own footsteps to see how my Lord has seen my fears and worries this entire time, pleading me to trust Him... really trust Him. 

And my prayer is that He'd deliver us from the worry. That we would FEAR NOT, because our God is FOR us, WITH us, and LOVES us, and that God's salvation would come quickly in the life of my kids. That a holy boldness would replace the empty fear... that the hearts and minds consumed with fear would be replaced with overflowing springs of praise and adoration for a loving Savior who is faithful to deliver. 

May we not forget His goodness. May we not forget to whom we belong. May we not forget how this all turns out.  

"For it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Magical Trip of a Lifetime - Day 8

My heart sank that morning.

Really? Another headache?

It sank for all of about 30 seconds, because it only took me about 30 seconds to remember one of the worst headaches I'd had in my own life.

I was in San Francisco with a friend having my first 'adult' vacation. We had spent 6 weeks previously putting on summer camps for teenagers, and we had just come from Glorietta, New Mexico. My first 'adult' vacation was accompanied by an "I'm dying" phone call to my mommy. Worst headache ever. Major tummy upset. Dying.

In anxiousness my mom mentioned my condition to a nurse friend who promptly told her to have the friend staying with me walk the streets of San Fran on her own and get me some Gatorade, and to pray that I wasn't so far dehydrated that I'd need to be hospitalized.

Within hours I was walking those streets with her. Amazing the power of Gatorade. (Any time B has a stomach bug he asks for powerade or gatorade because we push it so heavily to keep him hydrated. I really believe he thinks it's a medicine, and I really believe it has a placebo effect for him!)

Why hadn't I thought of it sooner? Could she really just be dehydrated? Now that I thought of it, it'd been a long time since her last potty break. I grabbed our refillable mugs and headed for the resort restaurant.

An hour later we had a completely different kid.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't have some major mom guilt. The poor kid had gone about 16 hours with symptoms of dehydration, and of course she didn't know to tell me. Then - to add insult to injury - and to enhance the mom guilt - to know she could have enjoyed the previous night...

I'm still carrying it.

We had toyed with the idea of going back to Magic Kingdom several times. Saturday's plans were supposed to be to relax, enjoy the pool (which we hadn't done yet), and have a special dinner. After feeling shorted on MK time, we'd actually decided we'd spend the $40 or so and go back Saturday. (The more park days you purchase, the cheaper and cheaper they get.)

But rain was, once again, in the forecast.

We still hadn't finished up Downtown Disney.

It was our last day there and Monday was coming, as was routine.

Dinner was at 4:00. (And it was going to take some time to get there.)

And frankly - I was afraid of pushing any more.

So we packed everyone up and traveled by bus to Downtown Disney. Again.

This time, it actually wasn't raining yet, so we were able to score just a few pictures outside with the kids. We bought a few souvenirs and gifts for a few friends. We had an early lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express. It was fantastic. No pictures, but it was by far one of the best quick service meals we had. Ansley couldn't figure out why there were leaves on my pizza (bay leaves), but that didn't stop us :)

And we made one last stop at Goofy's Candy Cauldron to redeem some of the 14 snack credits we had left. Many of the items we bought are in our pantry as we speak. Chewy Sprees. Jelly Beans. Snack mixes. But a few of the things we bought came handmade. This is a horrible picture, but frankly, no picture would do it justice.

On the left? Yeah, that's a rice krispy treat. Let me be more clear. That's a Rice Krispy treat covered in chocolate. And not a little chocolate, a lot of chocolate. Then it's doused in reeses pieces. It was delectable and was shared by all four of us. (We all felt we had PLENTY.)

On the right. That's three, count them, three chocolate covered marshmallows. Simple, but heavenly.

We wrapped it up at Downtown fairly early in the afternoon. Dinner was scheduled for 4:00, and we were supposed to be there for check-in 15 minutes early.

Add to those factors that when the front desk gave us directions to the location they told us to allow a full 1.5 hours to get there. That's one and a half, folks.

The directions went something like this:

- Ride the Magic Kingdom bus to the Magic Kingdom.
- Get off and find the water taxi that goes to Fort Wilderness. It should have a green flag.
- If that particular taxi doesn't seem to be running, wait for a bus to Fort Wilderness. They should run every twenty minutes.
- Once you finally get to Fort Wilderness, wait for an internal bus to take you back to the restaurant. This can take several minutes because there are several stops.

My mouth was literally hanging as she wrote the directions down. It wasn't until we'd got to Downtown Disney that it had occurred to me, "Hey, we have a car here. I wonder if it's shorter to drive."

Turns out it is, and we arrived at the Hoop Dee Doo Review almost 45 minutes early for check in.

Yes. You heard me. The Hoop Dee Doo Review. Believe it or not, that dinner was our 'splurge' dinner of the week and required two dining credits per person. (A side note: the two dining credits - totally worth it. All your food is included, plus it's a show, plus drinks - including some alcoholic selections for those interested. It also includes gratuity. Without the dining plan, the cost for all four of us would have been around $180. Because we were on the dining plan, it was free :) )

Admittedly, this is not a restaurant I would have sought out myself. I take zero credit. A sweet friend who is a previous Disney Cast Member made the suggestion when I reached out to her about things not to miss. She prefaced that, "I went with a bad attitude and thought I'd hate it, then I loved it," and encouraged us to make a go of it if we could swing the cost or found it worthy of two credits on the dining plan.

I'm not a dumb woman. When someone knows a lot more about something than I do, I take their advice. (She also suggested going in the fall for free dining! She's worthy of listening to!)

So I booked it as our last night, one last sit down, enjoyable meal as a family.

Let me first say - Fort Wilderness is that, wilderness. Not like tents wilderness. But RV's wilderness. With horses, and a lake, and a couple of cabins scattered about. And that internal bus she told us about, yeah, it really did make many stops before our stop.

But - while we were waiting our 45 minutes to check in, I got to prove I still have the mad hula hoop skills I've always had. Oh yea.

And it got to rain again.

And I got to take this cute pic of Ans with the new purse she'd bought that day. She's such a girl :)


And finally we were checked in.

Now, I've made it through like 8 blogs with not one complaint, so I'm not going to start now. I'll just offer a word of advice. Hoop Dee Doo Review tickets come in tiers. You can get Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 seating. I called around 4 months in advance and Tier 3 was all that was remaining. If you have the option, go with Tier 1 or 2. Your view of the stage - and your family, for that matter - is much better. Again, not a complaint, just an observation.  (Another suggestion, if you don't want to be made part of the show - because a lot of people don't - stick with Tier 2 for the best chance of that happening and still having better seats.)

So let's move on to the food. Fantabulous!

When you sit, you've got a big ole loaf of cornbread. And not just any cornbread. SWEET cornbread. There's also salad. Both are great. Soon comes fried chicken, BBQ ribs, corn, BBQ beans, and mashed potatoes. Real southern cookin', at it's finest, and it's all you can eat.

The show is fantastic. It's funny, cute, and somewhat interactive. It kept the attention of my three year old, and the hubs and I laughed at many things that we know went way over the heads of the kids. The kids got to sing at the top of their lungs, swing their napkins in the air, and play a washboard by the time it was all over. Who am I kidding?! I did all of those things, too!

It was all out fun, and with all of the things to do at Disney, I would not have passed this up. It was relaxing and enjoyable. We enjoyed it as a last night activity, but several there were using it as their arrival dinner. Also a great idea!

And the finale? The finale was this yummo Strawberry Shortcake! Props to Momma in the kitchen for whipping this up for the whole restaurant ;)

The turn around time here is unreal. Our reservation opened at 4:00. We were seated very shortly after. It's my understanding the next group comes in at 6:00. We left at 5:55. That's Disney perfection at it's finest.

And so the trip was coming to an end. I don't do the end of vacations well. I never have. It's sad and depressing, and really starts to set in sometime when I hit the midway point.

When we returned back to our hotel, I still hadn't packed, but I wanted the kids to be able to swim. So we donned our swim attire and headed down to the 'heated' pool.

Turns out a heated pool doesn't do you much good if you can't bear to get in it. The kids had a great time, but I shivered in the '70 degrees with a breeze' night air.

They swam until pruny, and we sat at the edge and enjoyed their enjoyment.

That really was the theme of the trip. I've been to Disney before and loved it. I'm really a kid at heart.

I could go back without kids some day and enjoy it, but frankly, I wouldn't want to.

This trip, I saw Disney through a whole new set of eyes. I saw it through the eyes of my children.

I saw their wonder seeing Mickey Mouse the first time. I listened to Ans' hilarious giggle / scream on every fast ride we rode. I saw fireworks light up in their eyes. I heard "zip-a-dee-doo-dah" be sang over and over and over again, unprompted, in the shower, and I saw B break multiple troubling habits he had picked up in the last couple months as he was able to relax with a family who was relaxing and focusing on him.

In sharing stories when we returned, I was told that B would probably remember the trip, but Ans probably wouldn't. And I don't doubt that. I don't doubt that most of the moments of that trip will be forever lost somewhere in Ans' three year old mind.


(There's always a 'but.')

But my six year old Ans who 'may have' remembered wouldn't have reacted like my three year old Ans did. And I will never, ever forget her eyes lighting up when she met Ariel and she pulled out her dinglehopper to show her. I will never forget that shrill of enjoyment that rang from her lungs riding the Barnstormer for the first time. I won't forget her sweet little face when she declared that Space Mountain was her favorite ride, even though she really only rode the People Mover through it. And I won't miss that little sleepy face that graced my bed every night.

Sure. She will have pictures.


But I - yes, I - will have the memories.  And those memories, well, they were worth every penny.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Magical Trip of a Lifetime - Day 7

Day 7 - Well, day 7 was the day I'd been looking forward to all week. Ans' antibiotic was sought out because of day 7. A short park day was planned on day 6 because of day 7. Day 7 was a biggie. Day 7 was Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. It was another day in the Magic Kingdom and a special event at that.

Bring on the fun.

To start the day, though. We slept in. Now, it must be noted that 'sleeping in' with a 5 and 3 year old means you top 7:00 a.m. Since it was vacation, and all, I think we may have hit 7:30 a.m. I'm not naive enough to have believed we'd get a super late morning in, so I planned a special 'late' breakfast for us that morning.

In the past few months the kids have become avid fans of the movie Lilo & Stitch.  It just so happens that I ran across a 10:45 a.m. character breakfast with Lilo and Stitch at the Polynesian's Ohana just weeks prior to our trip. I snagged it.

I can't even believe I'm typing this, as I felt for sure I could have named 10 other characters that would have taken the title of the kids' favorites at Disney World, but Lilo and Stitch took the cake, and not just by a little bit, by a landslide. They were so excited.

We arrived to the Polynesian really early so we rode the monorail around twice before finally just showing up at 10:15. They sat us around 10:30. As we were walking in the kids were immediately given maracas and asked to join in a character parade around the restaurant. They loved it.

Now - I'm a foodie, so I have to immediately comment on the food. This was by far one of the best of the trip, and it was breakfast food. It doesn't sound like anything incredible: sausage, eggs, breakfast potatoes, breakfast breads, bacon and fruit... normal breakfast fare.  But the sausage? Awesome! Aaron and I both swear it had an Hawaiian flare. The breakfast potatoes, unlike anywhere else. The breakfast breads were an iced cinnamon raisin bread - outstanding - and a pineapple bread, Yum! The hubs said the pineapple was the best pineapple he'd ever had. (And it wasn't just Disney - we'd had pineapple other places all week... this pineapple was GOOD.)

Here's a little glimpse:

The hot food came in this huge skillet. Like I said... GOOD. And it was all you can eat. (But we only asked for more of that fresh pineapple.) May I also mention - breakfast is served with this incredible juice. I believe our server said it was a combo of mango, pineapple and guava juice. For those of you who know me, the guava juice made this drink a hit in my book!

It took the characters awhile to get back around to our table, but the anticipation was worth it when we saw these faces:

Seriously - ask B who his favorite character was and he probably won't even have to think. Stitch.

The breakfast would have topped the charts for our trip anyway, but what happened next was a memory for the memory books. We were waiting for our last character to come through (Stitch, we were not leaving without that one), when it came time to do the maraca parade again. The kids were given maracas and away they went. When the song was over, the kids finished the parade on the other side of the restaurant. I immediately went into that 'mom concern' mode for Ans who is only three and isn't the most direction savvy kid anyway. I could not see she nor B from our table.

I tried to relax and decided to wait and give them the opportunity to make it back. Within just a few seconds I saw Ans' skipping towards us. Crisis averted. But then a minute went by... and another minute. And I was starting to work into a mini-panic over the competent, direction savvy offspring that I have. The hubs was just raising up out of his chair to go looking when B started running around the corner. It'd easily been 3 minutes or so since the song ended.

Of course, he sits down and we immediately start grilling him, "Where were you," "What took so long," and lecturing him, "We were worried, you always come right back," when we were interrupted by one of the servers, "Sorry it took him so long to get back! He offered to collect the maracas from the kids for me. He was a great helper, was very patient, and offered to do it himself!" In just moments a few more servers came by doting on him.

We apologized and praised him for doing something nice without being asked.

Just minutes later, this happened:

In recognition for his act of kindness, he was given a signed Maraca (by all four characters) and a cupcake for he and his sister. (And yes, it was a pineapple cupcake.) His day - and ours - was made. So great to hear positive things about your kiddos, and we explained to him that you don't always get something when you do the right thing or help someone, but we agreed that his maraca was pretty cool.

From there - we made a short trip to Downtown Disney. B had been saving a gift card he had for the Lego Store from the beginning of the trip, and we wanted him to have the opportunity to spend it. Granted, this was a short trip because it immediately started pouring on us again. We did accomplish the lego store and a couple Christmas tree decorations, but we decided that we'd be heading back a different day because we didn't accomplish much else.

Then - back to the hotel to get ready for our big night.

Now. Here's where it all gets interesting, as if the trip hadn't been interesting previously. I'm going to clue you all in now, being that it took me a long time -- too long -- to get clued in, feel privileged. Mom of the year, right here.

Little did I realize at this point that we had gone, gone, gone much of the day. We ate a later breakfast and had reservations to eat an earlier dinner (5:00), so we skipped lunch. Ans hadn't been asking to go to the bathroom at all the inopportune times, like normal, but I didn't really notice. Plus, we were in the hotel room for an hour or so in the afternoon, and I didn't really pay attention to bathroom habits then.

I got us all ready - and off to the Magic Kingdom we went with Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween tickets in hand.

We got into the park just fine, with just some mild sprinkling (though - not mild for my hair and Ans', which I'd dolled up prior to leaving the hotel), and two happy kids. Here is B riding the ferry to the MK in his pirate costume:

And us stopping for a photopass photographer, all dolled up in costumes for the evening:

Look at those smiles. This was going to be a good night.

I had also scored (and by scored I do mean 'scored', this one was not easy to come by) a 5:05 reservation to the Magic Kingdom's hottest new restaurant, Be Our Guest. Located in Fantasyland, at night it's a sit - down experience in the Beast's Castle.

As was the theme for our trip - we got in a few minutes early, but not after getting a couple good shots outside:

Before long, they called our name and we were heading in.

The restaurant is gorgeous. The ballroom, well, it really looks like the ballroom in the movie. We were lucky enough to dine there. It's snowing out the back windows. It's beautiful.

The ambiance was perfect for a sweet family dinner, and check out that rose, it's my napkin.

They encourage you to go visit the other rooms in the castle, two other rooms in which one can dine. After taking our drink order - I gave Ans a special treat and ordered her a Sprite - I immediately asked Ansley if she'd like to go look around with me. She declined, and in recent minutes had started being pretty whiny. I declared she needed to change her attitude and I asked B if he'd like to go. He did, so off we went.

So the rose, from the movie? Yeah, it's pretty incredible. In the same room, the Beast's picture transforms at the thunder sound.

The other room's centerpiece was this beautiful 'music box' made by Belle's dad for the two's wedding gift. You can see it just over B's head.

Upon returning to our table, Aaron had convinced Ans to visit the other rooms with him. This would be the last we'd really see of her for the night.

When she returned to the table bread had been delivered, as well as her Sprite. She declared that she didn't want her Sprite and she wasn't hungry for bread, nor did she want any other food, including a cupcake I tried to bribe her with. For the first time since Wednesday, her eyes looked sick, and for the first time in her life, she complained of a headache.

I know, I know. I should have known immediately. I've been dehydrated twice before in my life, and my number one symptom was one of the most horrible headaches I'd ever had. BUT - having had migraine headaches my entire life - I've spent most of my 'mom' life praying over my babies that God would deliver them from this highly probably genetic thorn in their side. Dr's agreed that if either showed symptoms, it'd probably be Ans (female) and mine started when I was about her age, so when she said headache, my first fear was "migraine".

And of course, she'd not needed tylenol for a few days at this point, so I had none.

When she mentioned a headache the second time, I offered for her to lay her head in my lap. She immediately laid down and was asleep within moments.

I proceeded to eat my strip steak, french fries and green beans (I'm a foodie, remember, I couldn't continue through the dinner story and not tell you of the awesome food. Aaron had shrimp and scallops and was happy as a clam. Hardy har har.), plus my dessert - the grey stuff (and BOY was it delicious, no need to ask the dishes) with a sleeping child in my lap.

Mind you, at this point the Beast - one character Ans had been intrigued to meet - had come through our dining room not once, but twice. At the time of our leaving, he was available to meet and have pictures with. Ans wouldn't wake up to meet the master of the castle, so I took B while daddy carried her to the stroller.

They insisted I get in the picture as "the Beast had never met Snow before". The cast does a great job at staying in character, but when you are 'in character' they do a great job keeping you in character as well. I can't tell you how many times I was referred to as "Snow" that night, many of which took me several moments to realize they were talking to me or about me.

Anyway. B and I made our meeting and exited to find Ans asleep in the stroller. Golden. Good start to our evening.

We then proceeded to take the next five minutes to replan our evening. What was this headache she was experiencing? Was it her ears flaring back up? Exhaustion? She hadn't napped all week... seems probable. That must be it, she must be exhausted. We were going to search out Tylenol, let her sleep for an hour or so and she'd be rejuvenated and ready to tackle the night... and it was all going to work out, it was supposed to be a long night anyway... so we thought.

So, Aaron had taken B on Space Mountain previously in the week and B had asked several times since to ride it with me. For that reason, Aaron headed to First Aid (they are fantastic by the way) to get Ansley some tylenol, and I headed with B to Space Mountain being that Lines (an awesome app worth every penny, and far surpassed even the My Disney Experience App on wait times) showed a ten minute wait time.

So - the camera for space mountain is immediately upon entering the ride. I was still waiting for the ride to 'start' when we jerked. I was trying to fix my event bracelet, and the look on my face shows my surprise at the ride starting. Classic.

When the ride was over (and the line really was ten minutes) we walked out to see Aaron and Ans. She was sitting up in the stroller, but looking pretty miserable. I quipped that she'd need a half hour or so for the meds to take effect, and we decided to walk over to the Monster's Inc Laugh Factory to sit in the AC in a show to give her some time to recover.

So you know how I mentioned previously that our kids - B especially - kept getting chosen out of audiences over and over? Get ready.

For those of you who haven't sat in Monster's Inc Laugh Factory, let me give you the general rundown. The idea is that since figuring out that laughs create more energy than screams, Mike hosts a 'laugh factory' comedy show to collect laughs and thus provide energy for Monstropolis. As you walk into the attraction you sit in a 'stadium' or theater style seating. I'm bad at guessing, but this is probably another attraction that holds around 150-200 people. Again, I'm a bad guesser, but that's what I have to offer.

We were about 3/4 full that night.

Animated characters then appear on the main screen and interact with different people in the audience. Those people from the audience are shown on another large screen. We'd made it almost through the show when Mike's nephew came on to tell jokes and to meet a kid (it'd been mostly adults being chosen... maybe 3 or 4 of them, up until this point.)

Let me tell you our current situation at this time. B had walked in first in our group and was on the other side of Aaron. I was sitting next to Aaron and Ans was on the other side of me, once again, laying with her head in my lap. By the time I figured out that the spotlight that had entered our part of the theater was on B, he was already answering the animated character and telling him his name.

As much as I was trying to enjoy the moment and soak it all in, I kept thinking, "he was chosen AGAIN! How does that happen?"

The animated character proceeded to ask him, "Hey Bryton - you want to hear a joke?" B, sometimes shy, but tonight 'on' in all respects, answered, "Yeah!"

At this point, I became extremely nervous. My children's definitely of a joke is this:
"Knock knock. Who's there? Banana. Banana who? Banana sitting in a bathtub eating an ice cream cone." To which the both laugh hysterically. And this is not exaggeration. This IS their favorite 'joke'.

I was nervous to say the least.

The animated character continued, "Why was 6 afraid of 7?"

Before I could lean forward to look over at B he answered and shocked us, "Because 7 ate (8) 9!"

My mouth hit the floor. I'd sure never taught him that joke. Nor was he the type of 'joke' kid to think it up. Especially not that fast. Even the animated character was caught a bit off guard.

Their conversation continued, with literally the only other thing I caught being the character asking him what he'd like to be when he grew up, to which he replied, "A pilot," and the character commenting that he had high expectations. All I could think of was 'how did he know the answer to that joke," and "I sure wish I could get Ans off my camera to get a picture of him on the screen." (Which I never got.)

When it was all over both Aaron and I immediately asked B, "how did you know the answer to that joke?!" To which he replied, "I learned it in school last week from my teacher!"

We love school in this house, and I thoroughly enjoyed sending that email to his teacher when we got home.


Ans hadn't perked up much at this point, and I could feel my hopes for the night diminishing. We decided since we were right there we'd ride the People Mover and give Ans some more time before hitting the park hard. She loved the ride, as it goes through Space Mountain, a ride she'd wanted to ride all week but isn't tall enough for, so she felt she had actually rode Space Mountain. Ask her favorite ride and she'll probably answer "Space Mountain". What she means is the People Mover, because she thought it was in fact Space Mountain.

B and daddy rode the teacups after that, and then we proceeded to the Winnie the Pooh ride. By the time we'd ridden in the honey jar, Ans looked done, so back in the stroller she went.

From there, we decided she'd stay in there and we'd take turns riding with B. The night was fading before my eyes.

When we hit our first candy line (oh yes, they do trick or treating, and they do it well! In the few hours we were there, we probably left with ten pounds of candy. I kid you not.) I thought she'd for sure perk up. We made her get out of the stroller to get the candy, but she crawled back in and declined the offer to try a piece. Now I knew we had a problem.

The conversation then ensued, "do we stay or do we go? No, you stay with him, we'll take Disney transportation back. No, you stay. We don't want him to miss out. It's only $40 to come back tomorrow, maybe we should just come back tomorrow. But we won't have this experience tomorrow..."

It was confusing and frustrating.

By this point we'd made it over near the Haunted Mansion, and the decision was made to hit the candy stops we found on the way out, the rides that pertained to B, but to head out and be done for the night. I was so disappointed, and also really concerned for Ans.

We accomplished more than I expected on the way out. Ans slept in the stroller through everything from this point. B and I rode Pirates. Aaron and B rode Aladdin's carpets. We hit three or four more candy stops. I and B had a Dole Whip from Aloha Aisle (which I would have paid the $40 to come back for the next day, had I missed it), and we just happened to hit the Castle light show and fireworks on Main Street. How's that for perfect timing? Ans slept through every bit of it. (And the fireworks were not quiet.)

We bought the kids both balloons on the way out, being that they had asked for them since Tuesday. (Who would have known they'd stay inflated forever?  The good news is we were able to gift them to other kids in our resort lobby before we left to come home.) After that we loaded the car and headed back.

We are - once again - horrible parents, and having thought that Ans was just exhausted, we assumed she should be more than rested after basically sleeping away five hours of our evening, and we made her walk back to our room. We joked that she'd probably caught her second wind and would be up all night.

I dosed her with ibuprofen when we got in 'just to make sure', and laid us all to bed. Much to my surprise, she passed right back out. I laid my hands on her and prayed over her that night, that God would heal her body and make her feel better.

Much to my absolute surprise, the first words out of her mouth on Saturday morning was, "My head still hurts."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Magical Trip of a Lifetime - Day 6

As day 6 dawned, we were well aware of the weather. Having had two almost rain out days, and being that rain was in the forecast for every day that we were there, we decided to change a fastpass we'd had planned for the day. Ironically, that fastpass was for arguably the wettest ride at Disney, Kali River Rapids. Rain was expected from noon on, so I moved our fastpass from the warmest part of the day, 4:00, to the cooler part of the day, 9:30 a.m.

Allow me to say, the fastpass was not necessary at 9:30 a.m. In fact, the stand-by line may have been shorter.

Apparently - 70 degrees and the possibility of being soaked, coupled with the possibility of remaining wet for a good portion of the day - yeah, that tends to run people off from the wet rides.

It's also important that I note that I dressed myself and the kids in quick drying material. Aaron chose his own clothes. Enough said.

This picture was taken about 30 minutes after our fastpass for Kali River Rapids. We rode Kali River Rapids twice this day. This was probably the driest Aaron was all day.

I'll be honest, I can't look at this picture without laughing hysterically.

From Kali River, I took a short ride through the single rider line of Expedition Everest, and we headed over for our fastpass for Kilimanjaro Safaris. I'll spare you all of the pictures of animals that are much closer than the pictures make them out to be, and I'll share just one that shows the perspective.

We were not disappointed with our animal interaction on this ride. Frankly, the safari truck itself was fun.

It was the next attraction, though, that took the cake for topping our day, and of all things, it was a show. Festival of the Lion King is heralded as the best show Disney offers. I had no idea what the show was like, only that the Lion King was a part of it.

We were VERY pleasantly surprised.

Pixie dust for our family started upon entering the theater. 100 or so people went in before us, and as we were ushering ourselves towards the nearest stairs to move up in the theater, a cast member caught Aaron and ushered us to a reserved, front row bench, perfect for the four of us. I really think we had the best seats in the house.

Then - B's luck befell him again and he and Ans were chosen to participate shaking shakers with the performers.

This experience makes the top five for best experiences in the whole trip. For sure!

Following Festival of the Lion King, Ansley's world fell apart again. Ear infection, tackled. The next battle would be against sin and sunscreen.

Exiting the Lion King, we noticed the sun had made a fierce appearance and was beating down. We walked to park the stroller for our next attraction, and I pulled out the spray sunscreen to spray the kids down.

Approximately 1.25 minutes after spraying Ansley she burst into tears regarding some situation in which she didn't get her way. (Hence the sin.) As the tears fell, she rubbed and rubbed and rubbed her eyes. What ensued was a flat out squaling fit that lasted the endurance of a 5 minute time out in the forest of strollers, and continued through a swift walk to the nearest restroom to allow her to finish her fit in privacy.

Once she'd finished falling apart, she began to rub the tears out of her eyes. And rub. And rub. And rub, until finally, she was crying again. I began threatening another trip to the restroom, thinking the fit was rearing it's awful head again, when she began telling me how bad her eye hurt. I put two and two together and realized that eye was probably chalk full of sunscreen at this point. The more it hurt, the more she cried. The more she cried, the more she rubbed. The more she rubbed, the more it hurt. It was a vicious cycle. All in all, it was probably a good 45 minutes of telling her to keep her hands off her eye and just to let it water. Here's a picture post the sin and sunscreen incident:

That's a rough life for a three year old, let me tell you. Still smiling though.

When peace prevailed and the eye incident was over, we headed to The Tusker House for a late afternoon lunch, our sit down meal for the day.

I took zero pictures of food here. I know, slacking, but let me assure you -- the food was a-mazing, and this was the one meal I was least sure about. The restaurant boasts African food mostly for their lunch and dinner offerings, with a few normal dishes here and there, but mostly geared towards the kids. We were all about trying new foods, but African food seemed a little much for us even. Oh my, was it good. I'd say this placed top three or four in food offerings. It was good.

I did get the pictures that mattered most:

From Tusker House we rode a few more rides, we took in Finding Nemo the Musical (also very good), and rode Kali River Rapids one last time. We met Pocahontas to end our day, and it rained on us as we were leaving to get in the car. I'd call that a successful day!

Us with Rafiki - this actually happened first thing in the am, but I thought I'd post the character pictures together. Ans was scared of him, hence my appearance in the picture. It was the only character she was hesitant of.

I was a bit leery of Animal Kingdom. It was the only park I hadn't visited previously, and I'd teetered with the idea of exchanging it for another day at MK, thinking it would gear better towards our kids. I'm glad I didn't follow through. We experienced everything we wanted to experience (minus "It's Tough to Be a Bug" which was under refurbishment), and honestly, it was beautiful. There seemed to be less hustle and bustle, more sites to take in. I'd love another day in the park with my kids dressed better just to move them from one place to the other and take pictures. I had fun with the camera that day...

Again,  it was beautiful.

We caught the Frozen Fireworks from our balcony again that evening, and got ready for what would be a big day Friday.