Monday, July 26, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Our Disney trip was such an overwhelmingly wonderful experience. This was the kind of vacation that only comes once every decade or so, and we ate up every single second of it. We feel so much gratitude to Mimi and Gran and Nana and DD for not only making this trip possible, but for also joyfully embracing two little girls' dreams as their own.
I tried to condense the pictures and stories to one post, but I ended up robbing the trip of the magic by taking too much out. Instead, I’m going to post in five installments, each regarding a different aspect of our vacation.
CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES FROM THE TRIP (Go easy on me with the number of pics, I edited them down from 1,200+)
Scroll down or click on the links to experience the entire trip.
Because of a few incidents prior to leaving, we started our trip with the girls being about 2-3 hours low on sleep. All but one day, we skipped a traditional nap and let Kate sleep on someone’s shoulder, and gave Avery a get-out-of-jail-free pass on naps altogether. Add to that the desire to make the most of each day AND the excitement that oozed out of every pore of the girls’ bodies, and night times also became very late ordeals as well. Sleeping in was unheard of – and miss the fun?!? – so we ended up with two very sleep deprived princesses on our hands.
Despite being exhausted, the girls behaved amazingly well. Avery’s caring heart was so evident as she latched on to new relatives, as she found Kate’s lovey to comfort her when she cried, and as she chose – even when it was unbearable – to obey. She is so much happier and easier when she’s slept, but even when she hasn’t slept, she has such an obedient heart.
Outbursts abound while tired – a crying fit over Avery's muffin being cold or the water running out in her squirt bottle – but it is clear it is because she really is so tired that she isn’t able to cope with her disappointment.
Both girls weathered the sleep deprivation well, and neither one of them seemed to mind it, really. A small price to pay when we’re talking living your dreams!
We heard a rumor that Disney had activities for the Over-Four crowd, and on a few nights Jordan and I were able to venture out with our cousins and family and check it out for ourselves.
Even when we were around, my mom and dad were amazing at helping to manage the over-stimulated, over-tired princesses. I marveled most days at how my parents must have backs of steel. There was rarely a minute when Nana and DD weren’t each carrying a child, pushing a stroller, or actively engaged in some sort of child care. Their patience and selflessness made the trip so much more enjoyable. Avery chose Nana to read to her every night, and despite not having a voice on the trip, my mom would oblige. Then Avery would stop her mid-book and tell her, “Nana, stop talking so your voice will come back.” But not until the book is over. Priorities.
More Over-Four fun was had when Jordan headed to The Wizarding World Harry Potter at Universal Studios one day with some Over-Fours while Nana and I took the girls to Epcot. He said the experience was amazing – it was all done so well – and the roller coaster there was more intense than any he’d ridden at Disney.
Some nights, I didn’t have the energy to go out (if I’m being honest, it is more about fear of roller coasters than exhaustion), and so Jordan joined the fearless crew for a few rides. One of those nights was sadly cut short when I had to call in backup as Avery felt sick (from tiredness, see Experiments in Child Sleep Deprivation) and Kate was jumping off the walls.
Most notable was the mountain top experience Jordan and I shared. We were NOT on Mount Everest when it happened, but the roller coaster got stuck at the very top of the highest peak and the riders had to sit in the cart for 30 minutes waiting. Finally, they were escorted off of the cart and had to walk on the roller coaster track uphill until they reached the nearest stairs. I was obsessed as the story unfolded, and couldn’t stop talking about it: what would it be like to be up there? Panic attack much?!?
So, the next day, Nana and DD offered to take the girls while Jordan and I did a ride together. I mustered up just enough bravery to board Thunder Mountain Railroad (a mild coaster at worst), climbed aboard, and – no lie – it stopped on the top of the highest hill. I almost panicked, but decided that this was not that high and I could see the nearest stairs well within reach. After roughly a minute, the ride started again… no dramatic ending for me, praise God!
This trip had Kate written all over it. She was the perfect age for this sort of trip. She is still young enough to fall asleep just about anywhere (and of the right personality… Sister never did sleep on the go, regardless of age). She has enough understanding to be excited and enthralled, but not so much that she is scared or considers any of it real yet. At the end of a Nemo ride, she let out a deep breath, and with all the inflection a girl her size can muster, uttered a simple, “whhhhoooaaa!”
Coming into this trip, Kate had a vocabulary of maybe 10 words, and only 3 she said often. On the ride home, just from what we can remember, we were able to count roughly 20 brand new words that she began using during the week!
Kate loved everything about Disney. She loved the shows, the rides, the stroller, the fireworks (a total surprise!), the characters, and especially the non-traditional attractions, like the boat that ferries from resort to park. Every time she’d hear it’s honk, Kate would drop everything and run to the window, yelling, “Boat!”
Kate was so worked up at nights and during rest times from all of the excitement. One day, Nana had to hold her legs still so that she would quit kicking and moving. Once she had a gentle arm across her legs, she went limp and was able to fall asleep. The next night, Kate yelled, “AAEEEEEEEE! Aaaaaaa! Eeeee!” nonstop until she fell asleep. There was no change in volume or frequency before she fell asleep. She went straight from full volume to passed out cold.
Kate’s biggest moment to shine was at the Princess breakfast. Sister was tired (see Experiments in Child Sleep Deprivation) and was intimidated, but not Katie Beth. She loved the attention, loved meeting all 6 princesses, and especially loved being oohed and ahhed over by her twin, Snow White. She watched the princesses circulating around the tables for a while, and then climbed out of her chair and began visiting tables herself. She truly believed she was Princess enough to sign autographs and take pictures with the tourists. And we think she was, too.
Avery’s Disney experience vacillated between exhaustion and exhilaration. She absolutely loved It’s a Small World and rode it three times (which, in her opinion, was just shy of enough). She is at the stage where she believes that things that seem real must be real, and so many of the rides were “too scary” to even attempt. On the first day, during a momentary lapse of judgment, I marched my overly tired 4-year-old onto Journey Into Imagination, the Figment ride. She survived it with amazing gumption, but told me about 30 seconds into the ride, “I will not ride this ride again. Never. Not ever!” And it took a good bit to earn her trust back on our ride-approval scale.
Avery was so timid of rides after that, in fact, that when it came time to ride the Mexico ride in Epcot, she was only coerced into going when the ride attendant offered up her flashlight. Avery proudly shone that flashlight all through the ride, and sure enough, it wasn’t scary after all!
Later, when it came time to ride Nemo, Avery was again timid. Uncle David was along that day, and so we talked her into riding as long as David would come along and protect us. Later, when Daddy wanted a chance to ride Nemo with Avery, she told him, “You can ride with Kate and Mommy. That ride is me and Uncle David’s ride.”
She was such a delight with her relatives – she interacted and attached herself lovingly to each of them. She specifically requested Mimi and Gran to ride on either side of her for It’s A Small World, chose Aunt Erin to eat dinner next to and ride with on the bus, lavished love (and demands) upon Nana and DD, and was quite taken with “that white girl” (second cousin Kathryn, who happened to wear an all-white dress one night).
What was remarkable about this trip for our Avery Girl is that she really did have all of her dreams come true. Anything she could have imagined being true of her Disney vacation happened. She ate breakfast with the princesses (she later told Trey, “it was the best breakfast I ever ate, ever.”), she rode rides, she sat on DD’s shoulders through the Electric Light Parade, she had Nana and DD in the same room as her, she got ice cream and Sprite and toys and trinkets, and she got to experience the Bippity Boppity Boutique.
This is a special experience for princesses in Cinderella’s castle. One of the Fairy Godmother’s helpers do their hair and make-up. The entire event is something to behold, and Avery played the part of pouty princess very well. Then, clad in a sash, a princess dress, and new hair and make-up, she was set free to enjoy the Magic Kingdom and have tourists of all ages ooh and ahh about her. She loved every second of it! It was as if the experience was created with her in mind.
Avery turned to DD the other night and told him, “Disney World is better than Disneyland!” Whether the statement is debatable or not, for Avery Girl, the combination of family and experiences made it true for her!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Froggy came to us on Wednesday. Katie and I love to stand and stare at him. Sometimes, Kate will suddenly yell out "Froggy!" and we will both drop everything to run to his cage and stare.
Katie Beth and the frog seem to have a love-hate relationship.
She loves him. She shrieks about him and spends all of her time watching him.
She hates him. She refuses to touch him and has to yell at him all the time about once when he accidentally jumped at her.
She doesn't know quite what to make of him, but Froggy sure is an important guest at our house this week.
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
Avery Pet Sitter Extraordinaire McClinton