Friday, August 2, 2013

Our own little fairy tale

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” 

Whenever my wedding ring flashes a prism in the car we say that Tinkerbell is visiting us.  This morning as we were driving to swim lessons, Julia whispered, "Mom, I think Tink wants to tell me a secret about how much fun we had when we saw her in Disney!".  That magic is precious.  In the most mundane moments, I am transformed by the ways in which my children interpret their world.
In the midst of our whirlwind lives (a move and a baby brewing) we took our summer vacation to Florida.  Yes, this was planned before we knew we were moving!   This trip included some wonderful time with family and a little stint in Disney. While I'm wildly skeptical about contrived fun (I grew up in the country where you didn't wait in line to have fun - you went outside, played in the dirt and life was based on Little House on the Prarie and less about finding prince charming), I was converted by the magical experience of Disney.  
Maybe it's because I was 7 months pregnant at the time and had a low tolerance threshold, but I will offer the perspective that probably many parents have when they are entering those magical gates...(mind you, it took us 2 hours on a  Monday morning in June to get from our car into the park).  During those sweltering two hours I had to repeat over and over to myself, "Abandon your annoyances, this is for the kids!"  Luckily Charles and I were joined by my parents who could fill in with the fun-factor that I was lacking.   As we entered the gates, I watched Julia become captivated by everything around her - the princess castle straight ahead, sidewalk singers as we walked down Main Street, princess gear abound, and enough magic to leave a child speechless.   It's as if you become transformed, maybe softened a bit.  Though the heat was still fierce and we had yet to enter the lines for rides, I was repeating my mantra a little bit less.  
The part where spouses compliment each other well came through loud and clear.  Charles figured out the "Fast Pass" approach to the park within minutes and by the time we hit our first ride, he had strategically thought through the entire park, which cut the waiting time significantly.  Within the first hour, Julia had conquered Thunder Mountain Railroad and in my mind she matured a ton!  By lunchtime we were doing Disney - really enjoying it! We had it mastered and there was a skip to our step as we met Princesses and mapped our way through the park.  We learned that Charlie REALLY enjoyed these pretty girls, but was terrified of the characters.  I was amazed that there was so much for him to do and expierience. Julia's ride choices reinforced that she's is not only adventurous, but fearless and up for anything!   She had stars in her eyes as she took in her surroundings.  The next day we did it again and it was even better.  We walked straight into the park thanks to a Breakfast with Pooh reservation an hour before the park opened.   After breakfast we met Tinkerbell in a small, intimate setting where Tinkerbell knew Julia by name and spent a considerable amount of time talking to her about life in Neverland.  Julia was smiling, Charlie was smitten, and I was sobbing.  
Twenty four hours into the Disney experience I was converted.  I hold strongly to my belief that little ones need to be encouraged toward great ambitions and I want Julia to know that she is beautiful without a princess outfit, but I learned that Disney isn't taking that away from them.  Every child has a gift of fantasy and make-believe.  This place was where make-believe became real.  Where she can see that the magic exists - we can find it anywhere and enjoy it!
Thank goodness that I have children.  I might just be a cranky person who believes that everyone should just grow up and act their age.  Instead, I get to sit on the floor and have tea parties, I am privileged to sing every night before bed, I reminded each moment that the world is bigger than just my small perspective, and I even get to go to Disney!  
Will I spend every vacation here?  Heck no, there is so much of this world to experience with my children.  Though Disney may have a good market on the "fairy tale", these tales are all around us waiting to be captured.  Sometimes they pack a 2-whole day punch full of magic, but mostly they are in the prisms shimmering in the car - a little reminder from Tink to gather some perspective and enjoy this fantasy around us.
The whole crew
Noah's first big adventure.  This is my most favorite picture!
The Julia experience
The Charlie experience
She is pretty cute, huh Noah?
Charlie would have abandoned us to run away to Neverland with Tink if we didn't drag him away...
Julia and Tink
Splash mountain
Fun with Mimi and Papa
Julia and Donald 
And since we spent a total of 10 days in Florida (only 2 1/2 were in Orlando), here are some of our other favorites from our time in Palm Harbor with Aunt Kirstan, Uncle Greg and Noah and during Charles' conference in Naples.