This is 3/4ths of the Bingham family, ready for a day at DISNEYLAND. We actually went last February, but it was a pretty awesome trip. I must admit that I was not a "Disney" person a few years ago. I never really get that excited about roller coasters and the best part of an amusement park for me was the cotton candy and churros.
When Lauren was 18 months old, I had recently stopped working full time. I loved working and I loved my job. I was already unsure about the whole "stay at home with the kids all day" thing and I didn't have much of a social support group in Palo Alto yet. I was ready to rip my skin off with frustration (those of you who have an 18 month old might know what I mean). It felt like someone had snuck in to my house in the middle of the night and stolen my sweet baby girl and left the spawn of Satan in her place. February was a dark, dark time for me. My sweet husband decided that we needed a break. He arranged for a baby sitter and he took me to Disneyland for the weekend.
I had SO MUCH FUN. I finally realized why it is the happiest place on earth. Maybe it was just because I got a break. It could have been the sugar high. No matter what it was, I had a ball and it was a huge catalyst for me in settling into my new role of stay at home mom. Ever since then I have been a Disney fan. Now, I don't wear jeans jackets embroidered w/ the characters on them or anything, but I am a believer in the magical power of Disney.
Lauren was just barely two years old when she went for the first time. Derek's whole family went to Disneyworld in Florida. Lauren had never seen a Disney movie. She was still very much into the Teletubbies and Barney. She didn't even know who Cinderella, Ariel or Belle were. It took exactly 2 minutes for her to be converted. By the end of the trip she knew all of them, and owned some wonderful princess memorabilia. It was the beginning of the end. She is 5 now, but we still have a home full of princess dishes, princess posters, princess dolls. etc. For a while there, if it had a princess on it, I bought it (she was my only child....what could I do?). We actually now own every single princess dress up dress --thanks to my mom who lives near the greatest thrift store on earth. In fact, a new Tinkerbell dress arrived today (Tink is the current obsession).
This last time we went, we went with two other families. My sister and her husband and 1 year old son, and one of my best friends, her husband and two children (one of whom is Lauren's best friend). These are both families that our family really, really loves to spend time with. That is probably why we had such a blast. With that many adults, there was always someone to sit out with the babies or take a little one to the bathroom. The adults got to take turns going off w/ out the kids and the kids all had someone to play with. Even though it rained every day, I think all three families came out of that thinking it was one of the best vacations ever. The mommies and little girls went to the Princess breakfast. The girls got to dress up as their favorite princess and meet ALL of them. I will never forget the looks on their faces. It was like meeting your idol, in person. They took pictures and got autographs. .... It was bliss.
A trip to Disney is not cheap, neither are the things like Princess breakfasts, etc. I have to say that every penny is worth it. None of the families had extra cash at the time and so going involved some sacrifice and budgeting. It isn't very often that the things we look forward to doing are EXACTLY like we dreamed they would be, or better. Having the chance to share this experience with my kids is worth it. It was magical. We even managed to avoid the trap that makes vacations not so much fun for mom; cooking and cleaning and micro managing in a different place. The most strenuous thing I had to do was buckle my seatbelt in the Peter Pan ride. Take it from me, a non Disney fan. Do it. Do it while your kids are little. Let your girls wear their Snow White or Cinderella out fit and your boys can be Buzz Lightyear. Go off season in October or February. If you want company, call us!! We are always up for a trip.
I have several friends who don't let their kids watch TV or refuse to buy princess stuff. They don't like the idea that each of these women needed a man to make the story become "happily ever after". I don't really care. Watching Lauren take her 4 month old brother and waltz him around the living room, complete with dips, was reward enough. Her favorite has always been Tinkerbell. If you were to ask her why, she will tell you it is because she is the only one who can fly. Just yesterday she asked me "Mom, WHY can't humans fly?" She jumps off tall things often, just to try to fly.
Why am I blabbering on about Disney? Derek and I made a rash and uncharacteristically bold decision. After all the garbage and emotional upheaval of the last year, we want to do something FUN as a family. We are going to Disneyland. It is like a milestone for the next phase in our life. Even though this last year has brought our family lots of debt and sadness we will move forward with optimism about the future and the future of our family. Jacob will turn one while we are there and we will be able to celebrate the fact that this incredibly happy and sweet little boy has blessed our lives during the past year too.
Is it in the budget? Not really. Is it absolutely necessary to go to Disneyland to do something fun as a family? Of course not. We don't care. We are going to immerse ourselves in expensive food, long lines and enjoy being in the happiest place on earth. Wanna come?