15 May 2007

Where We've Been

I know it has been a while since I blogged, but I have a great reason.  We were blissfully vacationing in Orlando, Florida.  Yes, of course, we went to Disney World, and we had a fantastic time.  We actually drove to Florida, which was a feat with a 3 and 5 year old in tow, but they did very well.  We were proud of how well they did traveling both directions.  If you'd rather not read all the details of the trip, I'll probably post pics soon.  It'll probably be tonight or tomorrow.  I'm sure this is going to be one of my longest blogs ever!
We spent two days at the Magic Kingdom last week because we knew it would take us a while to see it with little ones.  It was a great decision for us, and we were very pleased that we got to see everything that was age appropriate for our kids.    They had more fun spending two days at this park than we believe they would have at any of the other parks that are available at Walt Disney World.  We could be wrong, but since we had so much fun, we don't care. 
Monday was our first day at Disney, and the weather could not have been better.  We actually wore light jackets in the morning and late evening hours, and it was only in the upper 70s during the warmest part of the day.  We were able to ride many rides, saw some shows, and met Mickey Mouse.   Ava's face absolutely lit up the moment she saw Cinderella's Castle.  When you ask her what her favorite Disney rides were, she'll tell you they were Cinderella's Carousel, the Dumbo ride, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  We debated on taking her on the Pirates ride because we thought it might be scary, but she ended up loving it!  She also got to see Cinderella, from a distance during the Spectromagic Parade, but that was good enough for her.  It was either that or wait in line for 90 minutes to have her picture taken with her.  We can be indulgent parents, but there was no way we were waiting in line for 90 minutes to see the Disney princesses. 
Lukas got to ride his first real rollercoaster.  Daddy took him on Thunder Mountain Railroad, and he has not stopped talking about it.  He also rode Splash Mountain with me, and he loved that he got wet (although, I was on the side that got most of the water).  We were still in Frontierland when a parade started that evening, so we were able to switch and ride these same rides with him allowing both of us to ride them.  It was fun since these are two of our favorite Disney rides.
If you ask Lukas what his favorite parts were, he'll start by saying Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, and then he'll continue by saying, "Oh, and the Aladdin ride.  And the Dumbo ride.  Oh!  And the Peter Pan ride.  And the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor."  And so on and so forth.  It's cute.  Most special to me is that he keeps telling me, "Thank you Mama for planning our trip.  I had so much fun.  You did a great job planning it for us."  Those are priceless words for any mama to hear.
We spent one day at Downtown Disney, which is an area outside of the parks where you can hit an endless stream of giftshops, a movie theater, clubs, restaurants, and more.  We went for the gift shops so that we could avoid shopping at the Magic Kingdom, and we had planned in advance to take the kids to the Rainforest Cafe.  If you have never been to one and have the opportunity, it is a ton of fun.  It's very expensive, but I think most of us splurge when we're on vacation.  Our kids loved it.  We called ahead to find out when the best time to go was so that we wouldn't have to wait long, and we ended up not having to wait to get in at all.  May is not peak season in Orlando, and the entire place was uncrowded.
At the end of our Downtown Disney day, Ava came up to me and with great enthusiasm said all in one breath, ""Mama! We bought you a green thing to wear for when you make us cookies so you won't get all messy and it has Tinkerbelle on it!" It was my Mother's Day gift that she picked out, and it is a Tinkerbelle apron.  Ava is very into Tink and the Disney princesses these days.  It was a sweet moment that I will always remember.
My favorite Disney moment was on the famous tea cup ride.  You're all going to catch a glimpse of my child-like side here.  We were standing in line for the ride when Alice and the Mad Hatter showed up and rode the ride in the cup directly diagonal from ours allowing for perfect pictures.  Yes, I took pictures as we were spinning around in a tea cup, but who wouldn't(this is redundant, there is no need for you to tell me that I am all alone here)?  It was Alice and the Mad Hatter after-all!    My kids don't even know who these two characters are, so they probably thought I was nuts.  Who cares though?  I got great shots of two of my favorite childhood characters!
We had also planned to visit Cocoa Beach for a day while in FL, but Sub-tropical storm Andrea prevented that.  We spent about an hour there and let the kids play in the sand and stand at the waters' edge.  That was on Friday, after the storm was supposedly over, and I had trouble holding onto Ava in the current.  They weren't happy about leaving.  We were happy that they got their first glimpse of the ocean, and maybe they'll actually get to swim in it when they are older.
Our last vacation stop was at the Kennedy Space Center, which is somewhere neither Eric nor I had been prior to this trip.  We will definitely have to go again in the future because we didn't get to see a lot of what there was to see.  Ava was super-cranky, and we needed to drive to Columbia, SC that afternoon.  I had no idea that you could spend an entire day there and still not see everything, but we still liked visiting there.  There was a robot exhibit that Lukas loved.  Eric enjoyed just about all of it, and I was fascinated by the size of some of the vehicles and satellites that were on display.  Notice, I didn't mention Ava enjoying it much.  She pretty much didn't enjoy it, but I think she was just tired.  She did like seeing the rockets.  Exhaustion set in as soon as she was buckled into her carseat.  She fell asleep and slept for 2.5 hours!
All in all, we had a blessed trip.  The kids had a great time, which is what we had hoped for, and we were able to really spend some good quality, family time together.  Vacationing in the off-season was also a treat.  The weather wasn't too bad, the crowds were smaller, and the prices for a lot of things were lower.  Our kids are at a great age to enjoy Disney, and we are so glad that we decided to take them.  They think that we're taking a Disney vacation every year (We're not).  This is the first vacation they have been on, so they will equate vacation with Disney for a while.  I'm so glad they had a great time.  It makes all the planning and exhaustion more than worth it!

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