Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Springing a Surprise Trip on Our Kids

Mike and I are doing our very best to keep a huge secret: in just 4 days, our family is going to take a surprise trip to Florida. We plan to tell the kids when we're ready to leave for the airport on Saturday evening (we're taking a red eye).

Mike's cousin's son is getting married in Tallahassee on Feb. 16th, and his mum is flying over from England for the wedding, so it was a good excuse to go. She was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation a year and a half ago, and the British doctors have been struggling to get it under control. (My American physician sister is very frustrated with the slow progress and seemingly backward medical procedures they are following!! I'm all in favor of universal health care, but it's not all rosy in national health care systems!) At any rate, she hasn't traveled to visit us since right after Nicholas was born. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to see her and have a little fun in the meantime.

We have never taken Chris out of school for more than a couple of days, and he has an excellent attendance record because he doesn't get sick very often. So we were hesitant to pull him out of school, but decided that it will be much more difficult when he starts middle school next year.

Despite the rampant materialism and commercialization of Disney, we all love it. It's our guilty pleasure. We do it "on the cheap" compared to other families, who often spend an entire week touring the many Disney parks and staying on Disney property. We'll probably do two days at the Magic Kingdom and Disney Studios (formerly Disney MGM), and then one or two days at SeaWorld. We're staying at a 1-bedroom condo with a kitchen to save money. Although Nicholas will not get as much out of Disney as the other kids, I know he'll enjoy it.

The past two times we have done Disney I've been pregnant, which means I haven't been able to go on any of the thrilling rides. While Mike and Chris went on Splash Mountain (my favorite ride) over and over again, Kieran and I got to know "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" VERY well. And now, very sadly, on this trip Splash Mountain will be closed for refurbishment!!! Bummer!! But "Journey to Atlantis" at SeaWorld is even better...

Now it's true confession time...this is a list of our Disney trips since we've been married:

March 1994 (or '95?): 5 days in Disneyworld (adult-only trip; it was a blast!)

March (?) 1999: Christopher's first trip to Disneyworld, when he got to be the first kid of the day to ride on Dumbo, with Mickey Mouse, no less! So cute!!

Summer 2001: One day in Disneyland Paris, when we were in Paris for the week (we kept it a surprise from 5-year-old Chris until we were on the train heading for the park!)

Summer 2002: One day in Disneyland, when I was newly pregnant with Kieran (we also hit Legoland that trip and other LA sites)

Summer 2003: A few days in Disneyworld, when Kieran was 4 months old and I had to go to Orlando for a business meeting and took the family along (in August, no less!!)

Spring 2006: Two days in Disneyland, pregnant with Nicholas (we also went to Universal Studios and SeaWorld in San Diego)

The reason we keep going back to Disney parks is definitely not to hear that "giant sucking sound" as all the money flows out of our wallets...but it's to see the looks of delight on our children's faces and to have exhilarating fun as a family. We all enjoy ourselves and have a blast, without going hog wild on souvenirs and junk food like many other families do.

We have nearly goofed on several occasions and let the cat out of the bag. I've checked out a few Disney and Orlando books from the library, and Mike has surreptiously picked them up for me when he had no kids in tow. We have been building them up a bit, like telling them that my sister and her family are planning a trip to Disneyland this summer, and they are begging us to go. I cannot wait to give them the news! It will be so much fun!

I'll leave you with a few images from the last two Disney adventures...oh my have the children grown!

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