When it comes to blogging, there are definitely some wonderful opportunities and perks. Which is a nice balance for all the effort we put into our work, both in what you see and behind the scenes. One such opportunity was the Food Blogger Forum this past weekend. When I found out that it was going to be held (for the second year in a row) at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, a plan quickly came together.
Bring the kids.
And don’t tell them anything.
You have no idea how hard a secret that was to keep. So many logistical details to arrange. Several friends slipped in front of the kids last week, but thankfully they didn’t catch on. Nick was invited to two birthday parties and a sleepover for this weekend, and just couldn’t understand why he couldn’t go. Just trust me.
Madeline has been dying to go on a plane for the past eight months or so (she has never flown), and mentions it rather frequently, so that was going to be a surprise for her all by herself. Not to mention the actual destination (and the extra surprise I had for them on Sunday).
I made our flight reservations to leave on midday Friday, and sent them off to school none the wiser. They each had notes in their backpacks to alert their teachers that I would be picking them up early, but the kids had no idea.
As soon as they were both in school, I quickly finished packing and taking care of last minute details.
I had decided to have as much fun as I could with telling them (because I had kept the secret for so! very! long!), and broke it up a bit into pieces (the plane, and then the destination).
First, I picked up Nick. He wasn’t completely shocked to see me (the kid has a crazy intuition like no other that really is unnerving sometimes). He got in the car and asked what was going on. I told him that we were going to pick up his sister next and then I would fill them in.
I saw her walking down the hall towards me, wringing her little hands. I bent down, took her hands in mine, gave her a kiss, and told her not to worry. That nothing was wrong, and it was a good surprise. Her teacher told her the same thing.
Once they were both in the car, I gave them each a wrapped package and told them that this would be their first clue as to what was going on.
(The only thing they knew is that we had plans of some sort on Saturday)
They opened up the packages, which contained small United planes. Did you know you can get planes for practically every major airline on Amazon? I thought it was perfect.
They saw the planes and asked all sorts of questions. I said that we were going away for the weekend, on a plane, and then when we got to the airport, I would tell them where we were going.
Dropped off the car at the valet. Checked in. Got through security.
We made our way towards the gate, but I stopped them at the gate right before ours and sat them down in a row of empty seats.
I told them to close their eyes, and that I would put something on their laps. On the count of three, they could open their eyes and they would know where we were going.
To say they were excited would be an understatement.
Madeline’s first plane ride and visit to DisneyWorld.
Nick has been to Disneyworld, but it was a terrible trip (regular readers might remember some six years ago, The Ex’s dad went into the hospital the moment we arrived at our hotel and he had to fly back early, and Nick sprained his arm while we were there). Luckily Nick doesn’t remember the trip. Which is good justification for not rushing to take kids 4 and under to Disneyworld. Take them when they’ll remember it.
Madeline opted for the window seat on the plane and as we were taking off, she told me she’s afraid of heights. Fine time to tell me! After the initial fear wore off, she was fine (as she was on the way back as well, particularly when we gave her the aisle seat).
The weekend was a whirlwind. We arrived and checked into Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and then headed out for dinner, and then to Epcot.
While I was at the conference all day on Saturday, the kids spent the day at Magic Kingdom with their favorite babysitter, who also came on the trip with us, and then hit the pool in the afternoon. By the time I got to them, they had been in the pool for over four hours and were six levels of prune. Both of them are water babies and would swim every day if it was possible.
We changed, grabbed dinner together, had our first Dole Whips ever at the Polynesian (they’re as good as their buzz!), and then Nick and the babysitter went off the Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, and Madeline and I went back to the hotel. Magic Kingdom was open until 1 am for resort guests, and they took full advantage of every minute. He rode terrifying roller coasters and the Tower of Terror. I don’t know who he is anymore.
On Saturday night, when we were all at dinner together, I asked the kids what their favorite part of the trip was so far. Madeline answered right away, without hesitation, “spending time with my family.” My heart was darn near a puddle on the floor.
And Sunday. The last part of the surprise. As soon as we checked out, we hightailed it over to SeaWorld.
So Madeline could get her dolphin fix on. We got to feed them, participate in training, and well, it was just kind of magical (I will be doing a separate post on SeaWorld and some of our weekend activities over the coming weeks).
I booked the last reasonable flight (considering we had school and work the next day), and with a one hour weather delay, we walked in the door at 10:30 pm.
I don’t think we could have squeezed one more moment of fun into the weekend if we tried, and we were all pretty much walking zombies yesterday.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am forever grateful that the little world of blogging includes opportunities like this. It makes it all worth it times a hundred.