Thursday, December 28, 2017

Our Magical Christmas

This holiday break we took a detour from our traditions and norm and decided to have a destination Christmas with just our little family of four.  We traded the hustle and bustle of consumerism and opted for the gift of experiences this season. We'd been excitedly planning it for years and couldn't have done it without my grandma Alice.  You see, grandma passed away a couple years ago and when she did she was generous in what she left her grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Again, with this we were a bit untraditional and instead of setting it aside, we wanted to use it to honor her in a way that she would love--happiness.  What better way to have happiness show up than to be a family traveling around surrounded by sunshine (which she adored!)  She lived for making memories, sunny skies, laughing children and all around joy.  We made those memories, soaked in the sunny skies, laughed with our children and experienced so much joy.  It was a true gift.  Grandma was with us, I'm sure of it.

In part of honoring grandma on this trip, I wanted to take a piece of her with me.  So, I brought her travel mirror.  A bit unusual, I know.  Now, to some this may be just an ordinary and honestly not the most attractive little mirror.  But, to anyone that knew my grandma or ever ate with her, this mirror was special and actually a coveted piece of plastic after she passed.  It was just so.....grandma.  After every meal she would whip that little yellow mirror out of her purse and carefully inspect her teeth (not before asking us if she had anything in them first) And after a full inspection, she would take out her bright pink or red lipstick and carefully and meticulously apply it.  I always watched her do this in awe of how she could be so precise and careful and also kind of giggling inside because the whole process was a hoot to watch.  So, while I did not use grandmas mirror to check my teeth or apply my lipstick, I did use it to make sure she was a part of every adventure and memory we had here--especially the ones she would love to be a part of. Because after all, this trip was her gift to us.  So, if you see a yellow mirror in a picture, it's just a little piece of grandma Alice.

The First day and a half, we took advantage of the pool, surrounding restaurants and visited Disney Springs.

mozzarella sticks--grandma's fave!

The next day we went to what is now my favorite park--ever, Animal Kingdom.  This place was magical and fun and super entertaining.  Everywhere you went they entertained you with little things and big things and made is so fun for everyone.  Heck, even the tram ride over was entertaining with the beat-boxing and singing tram director!  Everett and I "accidentally" got on the famous Everest ride with a fast pass we didn't actually have--oops!  What a fun ride! Our family even got randomly picked for special VIP seating at the Lion King show where Everett got to be a part of of the dance.  Ah, I wish I could go back and watch that show again--so good!  And every time we visited "Africa" we were met with dancing, singing, music and stunt tricks--by far my favorite part of the park!  At the end of the day, Curt was able to get us a fast pass to ride the safari and even though it was in the dark--it was such a cool experience to see the wildlife so close.  It was just the best day and I can't wait to go back!

 The next day was Christmas eve so we practiced our lazy bones by going out to breakfast, swimming at the pool and going to a Christmas eve service at a random church we found.  Funny how even when you're miles from what you know, you always seem to find the message you need to.

On Christmas, we decided to be gluttons for punishment and did Magic Kingdom.  It was like a whole day of black friday shopping crowds.  BUSY!  It was magical to see the castle and watch the kids experience the wonder of the rides and characters they met. However, I'm not gonna lie, part of me was wishing we could have ditched the Magic Kingdom and gone back to Animal Kingdom.  Some highlights of the day were the Christmas parade, Space Mountain with Everett, Seeing Grey meet Ariel, the fireworks show and the long line to get back on the tram home---oh wait, that was torture.  Literal torture--crying and cold kids begging to be held while in a large shuffling group of pushing people.  They need to create a fast pass for that shiz.  Yikes!  All in all it was a fun, but exhausting day.  I think we calculated that we logged around 30,000 steps!  Until next time, Mickey!

About to meet her favorite princess--Ariel!

After a good long sleep and some breakfast donuts (hello Krispy Kreme, I've missed you!), we took to the road for a little day trip to the beach and to visit my grandma Manias in Jupiter, FL.  The beach was a bit on the chilly side, but for us hearty midwesterners, we survived just fine and left with a load of shells and some sand in every crevasse.  After the beach we picked up my grandma and took her out to dinner.  It was great to catch up and see her since we don't get to very often anymore now that she is in Florida.

Our last full day in Orlando, we treated ourselves to a day without an agenda and sat by the pool all day long.  We even snuck in a nap--a Christmas miracle!  It was probably the best weather day we had all trip, so it was an enjoyable way to close our time in Florida--even if we'll be grabbing for the aloe vera.

These two crazies snuck in one last dip the morning we left in like 50 degree weather!

Overall, this trip was magical, joyful, fun and just the experience our little family needed.  Not too busy, not too lazy, but just our speed.  I am so thankful we had the opportunity to do this as a family and will look back on these memories fondly as I know my grandma would wish for us to do. 

Now to unpack and brace our brains and bodies for the 80 degree temperature difference! It's always good to get away, but nothing beats being home.

Happy New Year! 


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