He Has Not Forsaken Me

Tomorrow my sweet little girl turns three and while I’m full of emotions just typing that one statement, I can’t help but allow myself to think back to this night three years ago, the night before her very first ever birthday.

It was a Monday. There was nothing really notable about March 28th, 2011 other then the fact that it was the last day that we were just a husband and a wife, the last day before we became a mama and a daddy. On Friday of the previous week Sam* had asked her doctor for an induction date during her spring break to minimize the amount of school she’d miss, and her doctor agreed. We knew that Tuesday, March 29th our daughter would be born (unless she decided to enter the world sooner).

A & I both worked Monday as we typically would. It was his first day in his new office building and subsequently one of the last 30ish days he’d ever worked for that company (though we didn’t know that at the time). I had a very busy day full of preparing for my upcoming leave. It was a hard preparation though, while some people knew of my impending leave, not everyone did. I kept it that way…just in case. Really, this was the tone for the entire day, I’d catch myself getting very excited about the fact that in just a matter of hours I’d be a mama before having to reign in my excitement…just in case.

After work A & I took Sam out to a carb loaded dinner so she would have her strength and we presented her with a couple of tokens of our love and gratitude. We took her home, we came home, and we sat. I remember sitting at the top of the stair case with Aaron that night thinking, “This is it, either our house will never be this quiet again or it will be all too quiet for a very long time.” With adoption, there are no guarantees. I mean, to be honest we didn’t even know what ethnicity our daughter would be having thought we’d never met her birth father. We felt Sam* was steadfast in her decision, but we couldn’t be for sure and our hearts were guarded because of it.
We packed our bags, not wanting to be too confident that 1) we’d have a baby to stay with and 2) we’d have a hospital room to sleep in with said baby, loaded our electronics, and placed E’s car seat and baby bag in the car. I remember hearing the snap of the infant carrier into the car seat base and thinking to myself I was only making a one-way trip with an empty car seat, it was either coming home with a baby, or it was staying at the hospital.

And then we prayed, reverently. I prayed until sleep and my soul finally met. I prayed for Sam that she’d be given peace in her decision and that whatever her decision may be, that she would make it confidently. I prayed for the sweet baby girl in her womb, my sweet E, that she would enter into a world full of love in good health and without stress to her delicate little body. I prayed for the hospital staff, that they’d accept all of us for our situation and see the beauty in our uniqueness. I prayed for the medical staff overseeing Sam* and E, that they’d make all decisions with their best interest in mind.

I prayed for our hearts. I prayed that we’d have the strength to endure the next few days of uncertainly, that we’d have the courage to love this little girl with our entire hearts placing all faith in The Lord that He would not forsake us, I actually literally prayed the words, “My God, please do not forsake me. My God, please do not forsake me” over and over until I drifted into a place somewhere between being asleep and awake.

And as you all know, my God did not forsake me.

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WHY We’re Going Back To Walt Disney World- SURPRISE!

I know, I know.  I’ve spent the last 4ish months telling you why we’re never going back to Walt Disneyworld, but we are…and we’re going back in less than 4 months!  In fact 4 months from today we’ll already be back from our next trip to “The World”.

So here’s the scoop.  Remember when I told you the kind folk at Disney Vacation Club told me to call them when we returned home from our trip.  Well, I did.  And they were true to their word.  After several conversations, we agreed that staying at the Grand Floridian Villa’s would likely rectify a lot of the issues we ran into on this trip.

The Villas at DisneyÕs Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

So, guess where we’re staying!  The brand new Villa’s at the Grand Floridian, the same hotel that A & I said would be the only hotel we’d consider staying at if we ever went back.  The Grand Floridian is a monorail hotel, which means we can take a monorail to Magic Kingdom or the Ticketing and Transportation Center (and catch a monorail to EPCOT).  We can also take the monorail to the Polynesian Hotel and Contemporary Hotel (this is important later).  We also absolutely love the Grand Floridian, and with its leisure amenities if we never leave the hotel, we’d still have plenty to do and fun to enjoy.

A and I discussed the idea of returning so soon at length, but we’ve made some big changes to how we’re vacationing at Walt Disneyworld and are hoping that will make for a completely different experience for this trip than we experienced last time.  The truth is, I planned our last vacation the same way I had planned all other previous trips to Walt Disneyworld, but there was something majorly different about this trip then any other trip…we had a baby.  And we all know, babies change everything.

So, while I’m nervous about our upcoming trip, I’m also excited and cautiously optimistic that it will renew our love for Walt Disney World.

I hope you stick along to find out if this next trip will truly be our very last vacation to Walt Disneyworld, or the firstsecondthird next of many to come.

 

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Why We’ll Never Go To Disneyworld Again – Day 9

Our last and final day at Walt Disneyworld wasn’t one filled with too much activity.  We spent our morning packing up our bags, getting them down to bell services (which was a nightmare) and decided to head over to Down Town Disney.

We didn’t have a reservation for T-Rex Cafe, but really wanted to try it.  Because we belong to the Landry’s Select Club, we’re supposed to be able to walk up and be seated right away.  If right away is 30 minutes later, then that was true.

Our meal was horrible.  Well, I should say the service was horrible as I never actually got to eat my meal.  It took over an hour after ordering for our food to show up, and that was only because we literally stood up and said we were leaving (we had a flight to catch).  They brought out our food in to-go boxes, and we brought it with us, but had to dump it at the airport.

After burning the last of our snack credits from our dining plan at the hotel gift shop, we boarded our Magical Express bus back to Orlando and got ready to head home.

The airport was a pretty easy experience, I like MCO well enough as there’s a lot to do to keep entertained (IE: Lots of shopping available).

I will say, we flew US Airways to MCO and Southwest back.  Flying Southwest with a toddler is such a stressful experience because you’re not guaranteed a seat.  The gate area was insane, and when we lined up in A group (we paid for early check in) they told us we needed to go back to customer service to get our stroller tagged.  I sent A back to do this while I waited in line (to make sure we got to board with A group and get 3 seats together).  He couldn’t even make it to Customer Service so I used some not so nice language (not my finest moment) and pretty much just decided we’d chance it.  Luckily the agent working the gate sudden found a stroller tag in her pocket and tagged our stroller before we got to the bottom of the jetway.

We had an easy flight home, our luggage all made it on the plane, and I had never been so happy to see a limo driver in my entire life as I was when we were greeted by ours.  After a 20 minute drive we were pulling up to our home.

I had never been happier to see my house.

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Why We’ll Never Go To Disneyworld Again – Day 8

After a nice relaxing Friday evening we were ready to tackle Animal Kingdom on Saturday.  Being that this is one of my favorite parks and we’d spent hardly any time there, we decided to try to knock out at least the Kilimanjaro Safari before we left.  We even managed to snag “Fast Pass Plus” reservations for it.

We stopped for a few photo’s before hitting the safari.  We had purchased our Photo Pass Plus for the trip, and as the trip hadn’t gone as planned, we hadn’t utilized it as much as I intended, so we were trying to cram in some last-minute additions.

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We were actually having a great morning and making wonderful time through the Fast Pass Plus line…until we hit the “break-away” point.  Remember, my parents had an electric scooter, and because of how the line flows all wheel chairs had to “break away” from the normal line into this small cove.  This very, very small, cramped, warm cove.  We stood there and waited…and waited…and waited.  It was a hot day, and Animal Kingdom is always the hottest of the parks.  It was so hot that I, a desert dwelling native used to 100+ degree temperatures, lost my breakfast waiting in line.  Not the highlight of my trip.

After sharing this with the Disney Cast Members (so they could dispatch janitorial to clean it up) and asking if we could park our ECV outside of the line and re-enter the normal fast pass line, we finally made progress and moved into the boarding area.  At this point, I wasn’t so much interested in the actual safari as I was being in an open vehicle with wind blowing in my face.

We enjoyed the safari, especially E, who was excited to see more animals on her trip.  Once we departed A, E, and I decided to head back to the hotel to cool down and relax.  Back at the hotel E soaked up her balcony friends for our last afternoon at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

SONY DSC SONY DSCAfter a brief nap and more transportation woe’s (same story, different day) we ended up back at EPCOT for dinner at LeCellier with my Aunt and Uncle.  Our food was delicious, but EPCOT was horrible honestly.  It was a Saturday night during food and wine festival.  People were drunk, rude, and vulgar.  It was certainly not like any Disney experience I’ve ever had before.

After dinner we headed over to Test Track and my mom, aunt, and I all gave it a spin.

wdw201329314372706_6875282772Afterwards, we gave my mom, dad, aunt, and uncle fast passes we had for EPCOT that day to use on Soaring over California (A & I had done it on our date night, and couldn’t ride it again with E).  While they were doing that, we hit “The Seas” with Nemo and Friends (which E adored).  Exiting that ride brought us to a part of the park I’d never experienced before.  And it was a part of the park that held E’s new favorite animal – Manatee’s!

SONY DSCShe was SO excited to see these guys!  I’m sad because there isn’t an aquarium around that has any, so she’ll just have to wait until our next trip to visit again!

After hanging out with the Manatee’s, E and I went over to “The Character Spot” and met up with these crazy friends:

wdw201329314365865_6876291679 wdw201329314365494_6876287171 wdw201329314365375_6876281229We had a really short wait to meet 3 of the famous fab 5 which was nice, it made up for not meeting any characters the past few days (character meet and greets are E’s favorite part of the parks).

After we finished up at The Character Spot we met up with my aunt, uncle, mom, and dad for a final group EPCOT photo.

wdw201329314375749_6876291963 It was our very last night at Disneyworld, and we all couldn’t wait to get home the next day!

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Why We’ll Never Go To Walt Disney World Again – Day 7

I know, I promised to have this done about a week and a half ago, and it’s not yet finished.  At least we’re near the end!

To be honest, by day 7 we were ready to go home.  We were tired, it was hot, and we missed our own beds.  We pretty much cancelled all of our Friday plans and instead opted to hit the water park (and we made it)!

We let E wake up on her own and after 45 minutes of applying sunscreen to her and the rest of our little family (we’re all very, very pale) we went down to board a bus to Typhoon Lagoon with my parents!

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We had a very nice time at Typhoon Lagoon.  I purchased a water proof camera (note to self- bring this WITH you, they’re $20 at Disneyworld) but haven’t had a chance to upload the photo’s, and let’s be honest, we don’t need to wait anymore.  It was at Typhoon Lagoon that E finally found an “alligator” which she had been looking for the.entire.trip.  She was so excited to play with him (he was a foam play piece in the kids water area).

After enjoying some time in the lazy river we headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner at 1900 Park Fare at The Grand Floridian.  This was by far one of my favorite meals.  The buffet was full of options (even with my seafood allergy) and the food was delicious.  It was also a character meal presented by Cinderella (my favorite), her prince, and the highlight of the evening Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and Drusilla (the step sisters).  They were an absolute riot!Image

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After dinner we walked around the property of the Grand Floridian and absolutely fell in love.  It’s such a gorgeous property with such a laid back and relaxed atmosphere.  We absolutely felt like we were on vacation walking around the resort.  Even Miss E adored having a pianist in the lobby of the hotel and showed her appreciation by dancing to his “jams”.

As we were leaving the resort to head back to our “home away from home” A & I both agreed that if we ever did in fact come back to Walt Disney World (you know, in a decade) this would be the only hotel we’d consider staying at.  Little did we know how much truth there was to that statement.

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Why We’ll Never Visit Walt Disney World Again – Day 6, Part 2

When I returned to the hotel, I was delighted to see E was feeling much better (as was A) and that she had been her spunky self for quite some time.  We decided to go ahead and proceed with the evening festivities of heading to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!  We got E dressed in her Tinkerbell costume (it was a Halloween Party after all) and headed on our way!

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I had heard wonderful things about the special parade that’s done for the Halloween Party, so we decided to stay close to Main Street so we wouldn’t miss it.  Seeing as E loves Mickey and Minnie, we opted to head to their meet and greet first!

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Once we were done, we decided to claim our seats for the parade and get cozy.  My Aunt and Uncle were also at the Halloween Party that night, so we all gathered to wait for the parade.  While we were waiting, Phineas and Ferb came by with their dance party.  E loved jumping up to dance with them on Main Street!

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After a fun dance party, we watched the parade which was just as amazing as everyone states it is.  We asked E what she wanted to do, and naturally her response was meet Tinkerbell.  Of course.  So we headed over to get in line to meet Tinkerbell.  While the line was a lot longer then anticipated (and looked) E didn’t care, she made some new friends in line!

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I know it’s not the best picture, but I didn’t want to post other peoples children’s faces without their consent.

After a bit of a wait, she finally met Tinkerbell in her Tinkerbell costume!

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After meeting Tinker Bell we spent the rest of the evening walking around and enjoying the atmosphere.  We didn’t actually trick or treat at all that evening, we just took in the ambiance of the park decked out with extra special activities for Halloween.

E started to get very sleepy and we opted to head back to the hotel.  Even though we had plans to come back to Magic Kingdom the next day, we opted to try one more time to see if we’d have success at Typhoon Lagoon, or rather if we could even manage to find our way there.

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While We’ll Never Visit Walt Disney World Again – Day 6 (Part 1) The “Dish” on Disney Dining.

Unfortunately Day 6 started with a fever for E.  A decided to stay back at the hotel with her (he wasn’t feeling great either), so I headed off to Hollywood Studios with my parents as we had a lunch reservation.

I’m going to stop here to discuss one of the reasons why I was so upset with this trip.  In the 3 trips I’d taken to Disneyworld prior, I had always used the Walt Disney World Dining Plan, so naturally we purchased it this trip as well.  In essence we pre-paid for one sit down meal per day, one counter service meal per day, and a snack each day.  I had made all of our sit down reservations at our 180 day mark and all of our entitlements were “spoken for” so to speak.  Here’s the problem, scheduling meals 6 months in advance with a toddler, doesn’t work, but by the time we arrived and knew this, we couldn’t get a reservation anywhere else any time.  So, if we cancelled our reservations we lost the money we had already spent on the meal plan PLUS had to pay out of pocket to eat a second counter service meal.  I was sick and tired of having to leave my husband and our baby, but at the same time we didn’t want to keep bleeding out money.

As we sat at the bus stop I had one of two conversations that are important for this day.  We are Disney Vacation Club Members, and we were using our DVC points to stay at our hotel on this trip.  Seeing as we were having a horrible experience and weren’t getting resolution from our hotel management, I phoned into DVC to share this information with them.  I put it in terms they would understand, they were losing out on cash money (and our guide specifically on commission).  When we left for Florida A&I had ever intention of adding on points to our time share contract.  After this experience, BUYING more DVC was far from our minds and in fact selling our current ownership interest was crossing it.  We spoke to some very kind people who made a note to call us back once we arrived home, and they did, but we’ll talk about that later.

Mom, Dad, and I headed off to Hollywood Studios where we had lunch and did some shopping.  I think we road Toy Story Mania, but to be honest I’m not sure.  It doesn’t resonate in my mind because it’s exactly the same as Disneyland, except at Disneyland you can’t fast pass it, but the wait time is about half of what it is at Walt Disney World.  While we were walking around, a Vacation Club Guide at a booth noticed my “DVC Member” lanyard to “welcome me home”.  This poor man got an earful, but was so kind to me.  He sent an email to his manager and gave me a phone number to call once I got home.  It was honestly refreshing to speak to someone who was concerned about how I was feeling after the way we were treated at the hotel.

At this point I parted ways with my parents to head back to the hotel and see A and E.  We had tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that night and I was hoping E was feeling up to attending.

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