For two weeks now I have enjoyed the absolute blessing of watching my two little boys discover the fun and wonder and magic of the ocean, and more to the point Disney! It began with a flight (which Kaleb slept entirely through) to Sanibel Island where we met up with our good friends and their two little boys. Our first night there we dressed the boys for the beach and dragged them down to see the Ocean. Both had seen it before, Josh played in the waves of Ocean City a few summers ago, and Kaleb played in the sand there, however in two children that young, the memories are long since forgotten so the first sight of the waves, the horizon and the sand that stretched for miles was something that brought giggles of delight and eyes the size of saucers. For those of you that have heard of Sanibel you know that it’s the worlds best shelling beach, and Kaleb and I spent time together gathering pretty shells to bring home. During the week there we saw dolphins, one who swam about 20 feet from shore, all kinds of birds, shells of all shapes and sizes, fish, a sea slug, manitee, turtles, parrots, and a hundred other cool things! We made sand castles, jumped waves, enjoyed the sandbar during the calm and we caught conch shells and sand dollars at low tide. I celebrated my birthday during this holiday and discovered that I am LOVING aging! There is freedom in growing older, which is an entirely different post I suppose. That week in Sanibel offered peace, rest and a total getaway from the life we live here. It was everything a beach holiday should be, even with the every day tantrums and fights that happen with little boys. It’s funny how you can look back at even the bad moments of a two year old melting down, or a brotherly brawl and smile when it is surrounded by such beauty and rest.
The next big journey for us was a four hour drive to the land of Mickey and his friends. We arrived at our hotel (again, a hotel fit for another post given the enormity and beauty of the place). We stayed in a villa at the Animal Kingdom (made available by my wonderful Aunt and Uncle who are Disney Vacation club owners). It really looks like you stepped out of the car and entered Africa without the long flight. (a luxurious Africa that is). I think my favorite part of that first moment in our resort was the face of the bell boys when they saw the huge amounts of luggage that a group of 4 with 4 kids can bring with them, and just when they thought it was done… out came the car seats! It was brilliant! Our room, well… it was stunning. A two bedroom villa with a common room, kitchen and an incredible three bathrooms, one of which was the size of Kaleb’s room! I think I could have spent the entire week just hanging out in that room and enjoying it’s delights! Each room had a balcony, and each balcony faced the safari, with all kinds of animals walking past us. Giraffes greeting us in the morning was probably the coolest thing ever!
We started our time in downtown Disney, where we ate at the T-REX restaurant, reminiscent of the rainforest cafe but with all kinds of fun dinosaurs and mammoths,, made complete with a meteor shower every 20 minutes or so. The boys couldn’t eat they were so excited. The next morning we made the journey to the Magic Kingdom, it was crazy fun but HOT, and Josh who was refusing to drink got dehydrated and listless, by the afternoon he was asleep in his stroller and refusing to wake up. A bit scary but after spraying water on him to wake him and giving him ice cream and finding an air conditioned restaurant he began to perk up. Day 2 of the Disney parks was spent at the Animal Kingdom, by far our favorite park! It began with breakfast with Mickey, Goofy and Daisy, where the kids were treated to hugs and fun and great food. In each Disney restaurant that we went to, the Chef came out personally to take Kaleb’s order and make sure that he ate nothing that could endanger him or put him at risk. The level of comfort that brings is so wonderful and meeting the chef’s was fun for all of us. We went on safari, saw Lions, Giraffes, Elephants, Ostriches, Hippo’s, and a whole host of other crazy animals. The boys loved it! I loved it! At one point we saw a Komodo Dragon, everyone was so excited and pointing to it, and Kaleb climbed up on the little gate and pointed to the duck who was cohabiting in the same exhibit, he started screaming ‘Duck’… ‘Mummy, look, DUCK!’. He could have cared less about the amazing DRAGON right beside the duck which caused delight for us and the people around who heard him.
After riding Kaleb’s favorite ride (a dinosaur thing ) he fell asleep and Tim and I took turns sitting with him in the shade while the other took Josh on the Kali River ride (a rapid ride that promises to get you wet – which we all did). Josh would sit in his seat, and laugh for the entire ride and when it ended he would say ‘I want more’, and so the next parent would step in for a second ride. I think in total that day Josh rode the rapids about 6 or 7 times. We saw a parade that day, complete with all the characters we love and Kaleb waved to each one but was especially excited to see Donald Duck!
Day three at the parks was spent at Hollywood studios, which was again hot and Josh had been up all night (suffering I think from over stimulation) so we didn’t stay as long, but long enough to see Woody and Buzz and have our pictures taken with them (Woody even kissed me!) and of course we had to see McQueen and Mater! After a day there we went back to our resort and had dinner poolside (a really good dinner!). The boys played on the water slide and Josh did his first solo swim!! Watching him step out on his own in that way made me incredibly proud, but watching the pride on his face was something I can’t quite describe. He was beaming!
The next morning, at 3:30 in the morning, our wake up call came, the trip to the airport began and though the boys all had a few meltdowns I was really impressed with how all four of them handled the long wait given the insane time! The flight was easy and the return to Canada smooth!
All in all this was a trip I will never forget. I will forget the tantrums (already have in many ways) and I will forget the sleepy, hot days, but I will never forget the look in the boys eyes or the knowing that once upon a time I too knew what it was like to walk into the Magic of Disney as a small child. It was a special holiday, one I have dreamed about since finding out I was pregnant with Josh, and in light of the last few years the rest was so welcome. We feel lighter, and really soul rested for the first time in a long time.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Jen Rogers, who is home with her Lord, for making this dream possible. I love you and miss you! I want to thank Doug and Judy for their help with the second half of our trip and the ability to stay in the best place ever while at Disney! I also want to thank the Carioni’s for allowing us to spend a week in their beautiful home in Sanibel! You have a wonderful home and we enjoyed our time there immensely.
Last, and certainly not least I want to take a moment to thank the younger Carioni’s (Grant and Janet) for being such wonderful, supportive and loving friends. You have been such a blessing to us this past five years (and to Tim for longer than that). You are our brother and sister of the heart. We love you!