So after the Great Alabama-to-Florida Debacle, we arrived at the hotel in the wee hours of Sunday morning and fell face-forward into the bed with our traveling clothes still on.
Not really but that's totally what I wanted to do. Instead we completed the very responsible actions of putting our kids to bed and I woke throughout the night to feed Caleb.
He was so thankful for my maternal attentiveness that he rewarded me by waking up super early. He's a charmer, that one. I wanted Joe and Madeline to sleep more so I took him down to the breakfast area for the next two hours.
I met a super nice 80-something couple who were traveling back home from Florida. She wished me "Happy Mother's Day" on her way back to the room. He stayed and entertained me with his life story. Then he noticed his wife left her purse on the chair and COULD NOT talk about anything else from that point on. He confided in me that he was afraid she was "starting to lose her mind." He was dead serious.
This cracked me up because, at that point, I had heard three times that he was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. And just in case I wasn't listening earlier, he told me that one more time before parting ways. I sincerely hope they made it safely back to Michigan and aren't lost out on a highway somewhere.
After a nutrient-dense breakfast of Fruit Loops for Madeline (the only thing she would eat), we packed up the car and headed two hours south towards Disney. She still wasn't feeling good but that was OK. Pocahontas joined us on the journey and brightened things up a bit.
We gave Madeline the camera which meant we were blessed with about 78 self-portraits. This one is lovely.
This one...well...it's something.
I do love seeing the world from her perspective.
We made it to Orlando and stocked up on groceries at the most Disney-fied Wal-Mart ever. I think Madeline was close to weeping at the sight. Or maybe it was me. I had to refrain from shouting, "WE ACTUALLY MADE IT!" We grabbed just about everything that sounded tasty and drove to Walt Disney World.
When we passed under the big sign, I couldn't control my excitement any longer and texted Peter, "OMG WE'RE IN DISNEY!"
He sent back, "OMG WE'RE IN WALMART."
Obviously we were no longer caravanning.
We stayed at the Shades of Green resort, a Disney hotel just for those in the military. It was awesome with some patriotic flair. Madeline was thrilled to see a big Mickey. Joe and I were thrilled to not drive for three whole days.
This picture is now one of my favorites. I think the reason is obvious.
And then we took the monorail to Magic Kingdom and the Disney magic began having its way with us. Because watching Madeline eagerly look for the castle in the distance, holding her hand as we walked through the entrance and watching her experience the Main Street Electrical Parade, all of that made everything leading up to this night worth it.
Caleb thought he was starring in his own commercial and pulled out surreal cuteness accordingly.Madeline finally got to see Cinderella's Castle but this was as close as we got for the night.
After just 40 minutes, our girl was tired and I didn't want to push her at all so we headed back to the hotel, kissed our 4-year-old goodnight for the last time and steadied ourselves for year five.
P.S. I'm not sure where Madeline's shoes are in the last photo. I promise she wore shoes in Disney and didn't go all "Nell" on us.