When you wish upon a star... and it is nothing like you expected
Let's be real people... there are far too many expectations put on family time and family vacations. In our experience the let down is usually real because guess what? Kids still fight and bicker on vacation and I still lose my patience and struggle to be present. Sometimes there is real loss embedded in our family's story felt at those 'best' moments and sabotage has become a common theme, followed by mourning, followed by mama guilt for me. We have learned to readjust and after parenting for 13 years I am still learning to allow the unfolding story be THE story we need. The lead up for this trip was full of big dreams and Jason carefully planning for 7 months.... and then a huge MS flare up & life happened. Expectations went out the window. I was unsure I would be able to walk through the parks let alone enjoy our family time. We rallied, so.many.of.you prayed, & we shifted and looked to what this would mean for us.
But God is good & cares even about this sweet family time in Disney because it was about much more than the destination. Jason and I reflected that this was the first time in recent memory (and since we officially became a family of 6) we took a long vacation with the only purpose to be fun, adventure, and togetherness.
Our trip to Disney truly was magical. And it is NOT because we are special; it is because God is good & we were a bit desperate. When you struggle to function at all it humbles you and walking becomes a miracle, seeing becomes a gift, and fun together away from the daily life becomes something to savor. I cried at least once every day watching the way that God is building a beautiful and broken story of togetherness in our family even though we do not deserve such blessings.
Some of the moments we never want to forget:
Our kids really were the perfect age for this trip and ALL were able to walk over 24,00 steps a day! Pro tip: the Disney meal plan snacks as bribery work wonders, and watching the kids hold hands, giggle, selfie together was THE BEST ever. As everyone who has multiple kids knows they can be each other's worst enemies but honestly we just loved watching their interaction. Even our teenager was lost on the wonder of it all and they truly were just friends too. We never want to forget the ways God helped me have energy and how the kids rallied and prayed and we saw grace. We had family toasts and talks that often elude us in the daily grind. Because of my flare up we requested a DAS pass as recommended by my nurse and some friends. The first morning stepping up to Guest Services to say I needed help out loud felt like death to me. I had to put my over sized sunglasses on to cover the tears forming because my foolish pride tells me I should just be able to "push through." God took that option off the table with my symptoms and it was a GIFT. Things that we think are meant for our ruin once again lead to new growth and blessing. Our family experienced WAY more than we ever would have without that pass. We were the only under 60 crowd in some of the historic movies about Disney's life because we did not have to wait in line for the most popular attractions. Our family marveled at how Disney spent 20 years of his life being defined by set backs, disappointments, & failures. Isn't that the true story? It makes the often cheaply quoted,
All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them" have a lot more meaning.
I also never want to forget how much of a JOY it is to watch someone you love and adore experience JOY. Jason has been a Star Wars fan since I started flirting with his hot self back in college. He grew up loving the stories and in his huge world of adulting and responsibilities it is one of his favorite happy places. And I have converted to Star Wars but in truth it is because I adore Jason and seeing him be a kid in Galaxy's Edge was the best ever. When you love people through the rough times and the best times their joy becomes your joy.
He has been waiting since he was a kid to see Star Wars come to life. Disney does make you a kid again... and it was the funnest thing ever to watch J at Galaxy's Edge.
I LOVED seeing our favorite Star Wars nerd exploring!
Day 1: Magic Kingdom
It was only 70 degrees but they had to swim he first day we got in.
I did haul my REAL camera through the parks because THIS is how I experience such joy THIS image was worth it for me. Just THIS one.
That Peter Pan swag
Rayne was the best beast!!
Abishai was a reluctant "gray stuff"
Last ride of the night- 2nd time!
True Rebel Spirit. Love her. She is straight fire world.
Raising her right.
Rise of the Resistance is EPIC!
Annikah had some trouble on her way to interrogation
Abishai's Bday & Christmas money well spent.
Oga's Cantina is a must!!
Toy Story Land!
I LOVE these toy soldiers & chased them around screaming "I Love You" every time I saw them. #noshame (see video)
Yes, we are ll currently on the #DisneyDetox diet
Abishai walked over 24,000 steps a day but there were some rough moments...mostly cured by snack credits.
"Best adventure with my family." And those words have special meaning.
Evy is so curious & feels called to China so she LOVED the China Pavilion
Rayne was chosen for a street performer show in Italy- seriously so fun! (see video)
Dinner in Morocco
Late night music in the UK
One of our favorite parks was Animal Kingdom. It must be said that Disney had a gross sin in overlooking Asia (specially India) and Africa in the plans for Epcot. It is clear that they tried to correct this at Animal Kingdom- although it must be said the focus on animals and NOT human agency ad culture- which is the TRUE wonder of Africa is still present. C'mon Disney.
That being said if you search among the cast members there is a wealth of people and we were able to speak Swahili with a cast member from Congo and it was THE BEST THING EVER. The beautiful attention to details everywhere is also amazing!
Getting to dance AND speak Swahili- BEST ever!!!
All the Africa LOVE!
Little nervous about the Expedition Everest- he nailed it & went 3 times!
those snack credits though.
The Avatar Flight of Pasage Ride was insane!! It is an entire experience!
Last day the kids voted to go back to HollyWood Studios. Good choice.
The excitement of the Indian Jones Stunt Show!
Conquered the Rockin' Roller Coaster
Video memories (beware my cackle- not sorry at all- I laughed A LOT)