Friday, September 16, 2005

An ode to Disney

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?


Christy said...

I'm ready to go! I'm actually going to be in southern Cal. next weekend and thought about going. My grandparents used to live right across the street so I practically grew up at Disneyland. I'm a believer in the healing power of Disney!

Kate said...

Dang! I'd love to go. If I wasn't pinching my pennies so tight they were squeaking, I'd be there. There's a soccer game in So. Cal in Oct too, I'd volunteer to take Lauren to it, if it overlapped. Ah well. Next time.

Does this mean you aren't going to go in Feb, because I think Mak, Cynj and I were all thinking about going then (with your family too of course).

I think you guys deserve it. Have fun and take lots of pictures!

La Yen said...

It is like we are related. I grew up at Disneyland, and it is my version of comfort food. I don't get homesick for family, I get homesick for Disneyland. We are taking Gigi to her first Disneyland trip this year. We will have just paid her off and will have no money at all. We will sell plasma if we need to. It is our mecca.

Bek said...

I love it, we use the phrase "paying off the baby" too. My husband laughs that next time he pays this much money for something, he doesn't want it to poop so much!!

Do you have a favorite place to stay? That seems to be the elusive part to the mix for us. We either have really good luck or really bad luck.

Is Gigi going to be a princess for halloween? She would be an awesome Snow White.....Jacob is going to be Mr. T!

Lorien said...

I'm jealous. I'm feeling the my-kids-are-growing-and-I-don't-want-to-wait-too-long urgency to go. February is always a long, yucky month. Maybe I'll just pick em up and go then...

Queen Scarlett said...

Found you blog via Formerly Phread... so excuse the intrusion. I enjoyed your ode to Disney.

I guess you could call me a bit of a cynic when it comes to Disney... remember enjoying it as a kid - and then as a young adult - not so much. But after reading your experience... I must take my Munchkin and have her dress like a princess - heck I may have to wear a gone with the wind dress just for the fun of it. I guess - where else can you do that? You've inspired me.

Bek said...

You are so nice.

I didn't want to make people feel like it was something the HAD to do (like we all need one more of those). I just suprised myself at how much fun it was....and I never thought taking my kids to something like that would be fun.

Welcome Queen Scarlett, I have seen your comments on Jenny's blog. I don't really know her either, but she is one of the many cool new people I have met in BLOGWORLD. :-) We could have a blog reunion at Disney.

I am serious, my family will go if you need an extra family. Lorien, if we can convince Lisa to go again, maybe we can all get front of the line privliges.......:-)

Bek said...

Oh Lorien,

We are going again in February w/ the sister I spoke of in the blog and a few other ones. Join us!!! Come on, it will be fun!!

wendysue said...

I BELIEVE!!! We love Disney! We have made 2 huge trips to Disneyworld with all of my siblings and all of the kids! You're right, that's the best way to go, lots of adults to take turns. We usually split up the day so the girls have the kids in the morning then the guys take them in the afternoon so we can go play!! My favorite part is just watching the total amazement of the kids!! I love the pictures, autographs, princess breakfasts, firework shows, parades, all of it!
The best part is when you're kids start crabbing and crying, there's always a disney worker there to say, "Uh-oh! There's no crying at Disneyworld!" while your kid takes a look and you and goes, "What? Are you serious??" and I would always say "yep, that's the rule!"
Have a great time!!

Betina said...

Have a great time! I am so glad you are doing this together, after the ordeal you've been through. My 2 kids are 3 and 1, I would like to take them to Disneyland soon, you've inspired me to GET ON THE MOVE!

compulsive writer said...

Go Go Go!!! A beautiful woman I know passed away recently and one of the things I loved about her was the example she set by actually living her life. She loved all things Disney (and is the only person I've ever met who rivaled the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge in celebrating Christmas as it is meant to be). They took their family to Disneyland every year--maybe twice some years. They dressed up in adult-size Whinnie the Pooh and whomever costumes and actually went trick-or-treating with their kids and grandkids that way. I loved it! In fact, after she died another friend of ours had this great dream in which Adrienne was up in heaven having a chat with Walt himself about what a wonderful place he created. It was a great vision and I'm quite sure it really happened.

That said. I also have to admit that just today I was telling my husband we probably should take the family to Disneyland--no we've never been--because our oldest is 16 and we really should go before he leaves home in the next few years. I actually stated out loud that I dread going, but feel that in order to be decent parents we really should go. I abhor crowds and standing in long lines and it just doesn't sound like any fun to me. (In addition, we have two teenagers, and teenagers don't have any fun doing anything with their parents and younger siblings--even Disneyland). Truth be told, if I am going to drive with four kids all the way down to southern California, I, quite selfishly, would rather do Sea World (I love Shamu and have a thing for petting dolphins). Imagine my relief when said son informed me he is going to Disneyland this spring with the Provo High Concert Choir group. Am I a bad mom to have been relieved?

(Oh, and I totally relate to the "spawn of Satan" stage. I would secretly tell people I was attempting to raise Damien's daughter. Oh, it's hard! And I am totally dreading what becomes of her--love her though I do--when hormones come into play. Heaven help us all!)

So, go! Make some great memories with your sweet family. Do something good for yourself. Moms like you really do inspire Moms like me and will maybe help us get up the courage to do right by our kids...

Bek said...

Compulsive--I think once the kids are reaching teenage years, it gets much harder to impress them. Last trip we went to Seaworld and LOVE LOVE LOVED IT. I would go to Seaworld again in a second. We have a Marine World just about an hour a way from us and the Monteray Aquarium is just 45 minutes. We are huge fans. :-)

The first time I went to Disney was with a choir group w/ school. Lucky!


~j. said...

Bek - the Galans are the people to go to Disneyland with. We went with them two summers ago, and they shared their timeshare points with us so that we had adjoining rooms at the Disneyland Hotel. There is no better way to do Disney than by staying right there. Then, last summer, Jen & I went with my kids, sans husbands, and another girlfriend and her two boys. CUH-RAZEE. I'd like to go again. Is February becoming a solidified plan, here?

Bek said...

February is happening. I know that two of my sisters are in and I can always go (it is only a 5 hour drive--I don't even need my husband). That could be fun. I am a great one to take because I don't mind waiting with the babies!!!

I will take any and all tips from the Galens. We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel in Floriday--it was wonderful!! We usually do it on the cheap--but sometime we will try the Disneyland Hotel. :-)

cyndi k. wren said...

Disney must be magic because there is nowhere else in the world that I would joyfully pay $2.75 for a churro! We can't wait to go again in february. This time, I'm wearing MY princess dress!

lisa v. clark said...

I am the cheapest person on earth, so the idea of paying for all that "stuff" rubs me the wrong way. I know I'm a total brat and got the VIP treatment, yeah yeah, but it's worth the hassel for the memories. I went once when I was 12 with my entire family and I'll never forget it --it's a fun memory. I'm the best person to go to Disneyland because I don't care about the rides (I'll stay out with the babies). I just want to peoplewatch.

I'm glad you're going, Bek. You're little family deserves it! Eat a churro for me. . .

Bek said...

To show what a good and generous person I am, I will eat a churro for ALL of you while at Disneyland. How great am I?


La Yen said...

Two things--One, Can Gigi be Mr T for Halloween, too?

Two: I have stayed at the awesome Disney resorts, and at the crappier ones in the city, and your kids are far too young to appreciate the $200 a night for the Disney ones. A great one is the Carousel Inn and Suites--it is right across the street, and the pool is on the roof, directly under the fireworks. Plus they have continental breakfast.

I think that we are going Dec. 8--So excited! I could not wait until February. If you can't get a hookup on tickets, let me know--we get them CHEAP from the military.

Bek said...

Ahhhh, the mysterious military connection. Hmmmmm. My bro in law is in the military and we have enjoyed the benefits on occasion.

Speaking of military, I have been meaning to ask you something. Has your hubby been deployed during this whole Iraq thingy? I was just wondering. It seems like every who ever had any affiliation w/ the military has gone back. If the answer is yes.....yikes. That is a scary thing. :-) Did I also see that you were in Monterey? That is one cool town.


Next time we will do that hotel. This time we are staying at the Best Western Raffles Inn. We have to take the tram, but it has a kids suite. Thanks for the tip. I have always wanted to go during Christmas. Sigh

Carolyn said...

Hi Bek - I have to tell you I an an anti-Disneyite Believer. Let me explain: I am anti-Disney because I believe Mr. Bighead CEO Michael Eisner is making it harder and harder for the average American family to enjoy the blessings of the Disney themeparks. The prices they charge for entrance equal RAPE. Everytime I pay up I also feel like offering to chop off my right arm and hand it over along with my cash.

But I love Disney and contribute to the corporate greed by owning an annual pass - the primo annual pass. I have shucked out almost $1000 over the past 3 years for the privilege of entering the Magic Kingdom whenever the whim strikes me. Next year I will need to pay up another $350 to continue the program and even though I am balking more than ever and assuring everone this is the last year for me, I will not succomb --- well, I am pondering the possibility of succombing.

I love going. It makes me happy. It's instant birth control for me, too, because everytime I go I vow I never want to be a mother. Then I take my nieces and nephews and see their absolute joy and BELIEF and vow I WILL be a mother someday. I love Disneyland. And California Adventure is really growing on me too. Now that I have typed all of this, I am seeing the $350 I refuse to pay slowly walking out of my wallet. Sigh. I'll be forced to blame you.