Sunday, December 26, 2010

Epcot-- Day 1 continued

After we ate our lunch, Brandon ran three of the refillable mugs to the room. I like to have something to sip on with me at all times, and the double stroller has a cupholder so I took my drink with us.

We walked to the bus station area and hopped on the bus to epcot. It was a little rough getting two strollers collapsed and carrying two children but we managed. (Xander can walk but his new "game" is to take off his shoes and socks randomly so we put his shoes in our bag so we wouldn't lose them.) We quickly strategized how to make that transition smoother since it felt really rushed and frazzled me a bit.

There was a little drizzle so we put on our dollar store ponchos when we stepped off of the bus. The first stop in Epcot was the Character spot. The line was long but was moving rather quickly so it wasn't bad at all. I looked down after a few minutes and found the two boys sleeping.

(Xander did have a coat but he got warm while we were standing in line so I took it off of him while we were inside and Solomon always pulls the blanket in his face to sleep.)

I had to giggle... here we are in Disney and half of my children are sleeping! We kept walking in the line and right before we got to the front, I looked down again and 3 were sleeping!

I didn't want to wake them up so we decided that we'd see if Mickey and friends would play along. We also thought this would give Lainey some one on one time with the characters. Mickey and the photopass photographer were very nice and after they laughed a bit we got our first character picture. Lainey got some one on one time with Mickey. After she took some pictures with him and we had a picture taken of just Momma, Daddy and Lainey she looked up at me and said "Momma.. you made my wish come true!" *sniff, sniff*

Boy oh boy was she shocked when we went to the next station and Minnie was there!

Lightbulb Moment: As we walked to the next station, Lainey said "She was tiny!" I laughed a little and said "Honey.. her name isn't Giant Mouse. Her name is MINNIE mouse."

We also saw Donald, Goofy and Pluto!

Since 3/4 of the kids were still sleeping we decided to try to do Soarin' and do child swap. Lainey and I went to the line and the wait was about 70 minutes. As we stood there, we decided we didn't want to spend so much time separated from our family. So we got out of line.

When we met back up, the children were all awake again. We went to The Seas with Nemo and Friends. We split up into two clam-mobiles. Lainey and Solomon were with me. Lainey was frightened by the jellyfish. I explained that nothing at Disney was going to hurt her...I think she may have just been a little overwhelmed and tired.

Then we went to Turtle Talk with Crush. Lainey was picked to ask Crush a question. Rick, the castmember had trouble finding the "dudette in the spotted shell" and Crush got a little sassy with him. But it was hilarious! Lainey asked if turtles have tails and was so excited that Crush not only answered but he spun around too!

We loved looking around at the holiday decor.

We got hungry and headed to Mexico in the World Showcase to eat at La Catina de San Angel. Brandon and I ordered Tacos de Carne with churros, a lemonade and a diet coke. We ordered one Chicken Tender kids meal and one Empanada de Queso. Both came with chips and grapes. We split the kids meals so they could both have a taste of each others and gave Xander a chicken tender.

It was very, very cold and our food got cold quickly. I thought that my chips were a bit hard (stale?) so I really only ate the tacos. The sauce was wonderful! My lemonade went into the our backpack since I still had powerade in my refillable mug. I thought the meal was on the small side. It would have been more filling if I had eaten the chips too. But it was SO cold, I couldn't bring myself to sit there any longer. Solomon was going through a growth spurt and nursing alot, which increased my appetite. The tenders, empanada and chips were quickly inhaled by the children. We saved the grapes and put them in our backpack.

We split the two orders of churros between the five of us. At first I wasn't much of a fan, but they quickly grew on me. The children would have eaten more if we had them.

I thought the birds were really aggressive, but maybe they were in rare form since another guest was purposefully throwing food down for them.

At this point we decided we were just too cold and tired. It had been a long day since we had an early flight. We headed back to the bus stop around 5:30. There was a bus going to our resort waiting. We hopped right on and had a much smoother loading experience with our changes.

Once we got back to the resort, we picked up 2 more containers of soymilk and 4 fruit cups and used 6 snack credits to pay. We also showed our receipt from lunch and got our desserts. I had a sundae and Brandon had a milkshake.

We stored the fruitcups and milk in the fridge in our room. We let the kids wind down with some television. Brandon and I each took a soak in the bathtub and we went to bed on the early side.

Next up: Day Two- Magic Kingdom

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry CHRISTmas!

From our family to yours!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I interrupt sharing our trip...

to tell you the most wonderful thought I had the other night.

Brandon and I were praying over our upcoming adoption and a specific child. God has closed the door on us pursuing the little girl we were praying over.

After many tears fell down my cheeks I realized that if we are matched next summer/fall.. our baby girl is being knit in secret right now!

We have so much to pray for over the next year.

God, please comfort our future child's birth parents as they seek information and choose life for their child. Please guide them to compassionate social workers and medical professionals. Please protect them from harm. We pray for their mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Lord, I pray they know You and are going to celebrate the birth of Your precious Son this holiday season. In your Son's most precious name, Amen.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Disney Day 1: Arrival

On Saturday evening, I finally broke my husband down and convinced him that we should tell the girls what the surprise was.

We videotaped it but I can't figure out how to share it here. Needless to say, they appeared more excited about the flight and concerned about where the van would be then going to Disney. It took me a few minutes to figure it out.

One of the girls had "guessed" Disney earlier after eavesdropping on a phone call and Brandon fibbed and told them that you had to be 10 to go. So Lainey thought that she wouldn't be able to ride anything. Thus, the anti-climatic videotaping session. Once we cleared that up, she was very excited to go. Since they don't watch much TV they don't see a whole lot of commercials so they weren't sure what to expect. I'm sure if and when we go back they will be much more excited. Tee hee!

We ordered pizza and ate on paperplates the night before we departed. We had zero issues getting the children to go to sleep. (Hmm I wonder why?)

Brandon and I finished packing and we headed to bed around midnight. At 3am, Solomon woke for a feeding right before our alarm clock was scheduled to go off.

I nursed him and dressed him and then put him in his carseat. I thought for sure he'd doze off, but he sure seemed to know that something special was about to happen. He was wide awake.

The girls got up without much issue. I put them to bed in their dresses and leggings the night before so all they had to do was eat breakfast, brush their teeth, have their hair done and put shoes on.

While I did their hair, Brandon loaded the van. And we were off. It was 4:20 am and we were right on schedule.

Funny story of the day: Julianne saw Brandon putting on his shoes. She opens her mouth wide and says "Daddy, you are going to Disney too!?!?!?" Uhhh.. yup. Priceless.. not sure if she thought just the kids were going or what. So funny.

We arrived at the airport right around 5am. At the last minute we decided not to use the economy parking that was poorly lit and quite a distance from the airport. We quickly found a close parking space and took a few minutes to gather our thoughts. I was stressed and needed a few minutes to pull myself together.

We started to unload our things. An advantage that we quickly noticed as our children have gotten older is that there are more hands to help.

I unfolded the double and single umbrella stroller and started putting children in. We had three suitcases, a diaper bag and a backpack. Brandon carried the backpack and pushed a stroller. I pushed a stroller, hung the diaper bag on the stroller handles and drug a rolling suitcase. Lainey pulled two suitcases.

We didn't have far to go but it was SO helpful! We got on the elevator and barely fit. Then we went to the airline counter, turned in our luggage and got our boarding passes.

Next up was security. For a few weeks I had worried about going through security. I prayed about it alot. And I have to say, every prayer was answered!

First, we went to a podium. The worker checked our IDs, asked the girls their names and passed us through. While we were waiting, I took everyone's coats off. Then I took off the children's shoes and put them in a bucket. Coats in another bucket. Bags on the conveyor belt. I picked up Solomon from the stroller and asked Julianne to stand. Brandon folded the stroller and put it on the belt. He picked up Xander and folded the stroller and together we put it on the belt.

I walked through with Solomon, Brandon walked through with Xander and both of the girls walked through on their own. We grabbed the buckets and went to the bench to put everyone back together. Xander's almond milk was tested and we were on our merry little way. No nekkid scanner, no patdowns.

Easy, breezy, beautiful.. covergirl. Oops.. Just easy, breezy, beautiful I mean!

We easily found our gate and noticed that we were near a bathroom and a small stand with some breakfast items. We asked the girls if they wanted a banana or a yogurt. One had a yogurt, one had a banana and I got a banana for Xander. Brandon and I got breakfast sandwiches and a drink. I ate the sausage off and gave the biscuit to the girls to split. It wasn't a very good biscuit at all and I was still nervous about the flight.

We camped out at the gate and looked around. We made some smalltalk with another group sitting next to us. I popped my anti-histamine dose and all was well. (Yes, I'm still on an anti-histamine cocktail...) Oh and I snapped some pictures of us in our early morning groggy state. (None of us are morning folks- but Xander was having a pretty good time!)

We gate checked the strollers and walked on with just the diaper bags and the backpack. We had four seats all on the same row. Three on one side and one seat on the other. The flight went really well. Solomon finally fell asleep after nursing again and slept for most of the flight. Xander took a short nap. Before long we landed!

Once we got to the Orlando Airport we quickly found our way to the tram and followed the signs to Mickey's Magical Express. We showed them our tickets and quickly loaded.

Apparently, our bus driver was very new. I mean.. like maybe her first day out of training? It was a rather scary drive with lots of heavy breaking, a heavy foot on the gas followed by heavy breaking and back to heavy accelerating. And tediously slow turning. Brandon and I just looked at each other.

But we got there in one piece. Somehow seeing this on the way made things all better.

We walked into the All Star Music Hotel and holy smokes it was busy. We stood in line for about an hour. During that time, we had our first sprinkling of pixie dust. A man walked up to us and asked if we could use some apple juice boxes. They were all sealed and still in the big outside package. He explained he over bought at the grocery delivery and that his bag was too heavy to take them home. I thanked him and then he offered some bottled Lipton Green Tea. We don't drink that so I passed and wished him a safe trip home.

Luis checked us in and the only thing that was not 100% correct was the pack and play situation. We requested two and only one was already in our room. Not a huge deal really and I knew it was going to happen because I saw it when I tried to do online check in the night before (unsuccessfully.) We did get the building we requested and he said that they would send a pack and play up.

Our room was ready so we headed to our building to lighten our load a bit. As we were sorting through things to leave at the hotel there was a knock and our pack and play arrived. Then there was another knock. Our luggage arrived.

We headed down to the Intermission Cafeteria and ordered lunch.

We used 4 counter service credits:
2 bacon cheeseburgers, fries and icecream sundaes
2 grilled cheese sandwiches and fries and grapes
A soymilk, 1 chocolate milk, bottled water, lemonade.

And we picked up all four of our reusable mugs that came with our dining plan.

Then we got another soymilk and used a snack credit for that.

Next up: Day 1 Continued Epcot


Monday, December 20, 2010

We are different and I love it!

I had a lot of time to think and observe this past week. I love to people watch and Disney is people watching extreme.

I started to notice a trend. Children at Disney that had no idea how to occupy their every waking moment without electronics. Seriously. We stood in line for hours and hours by the time you added it all up. And as I looked around I saw children watching movies on phones, portable DVD players and playing all kinds of electronic games. Literally, children were rushing through the rides and attractions to get back to their electronics!

I noticed families on vacation that weren't even speaking to each other. I noticed families with a pained look on their face as they were "forced" to spend time together. I overheard a mother tell her child "I can't wait until we are home and I can drop you off at daycare!"

And I started thinking about what makes our family different...

1. Brandon and I see children as blessings. I can't say this enough. Children aren't burdens. They are glorious gifts from above. They come complete with their own little quirks and personalities. Children are FUN. It was amazing to watch my children as their eyes lit up in amazement at the sights and sounds. Complete amazement.

2. We spend a lot of time together. My children don't see their siblings as annoyances or rivals. They rarely argue and if they do, they quickly make up because they don't like to be on the outs. We eat three meals together with everyone in attendance-- including Daddy! And we crave MORE time together than what we already get. The girls share a bedroom and recently begged me to never make them sleep in separate rooms.

3. We don't rely on electronics to keep our children entertained. Our children watch less than 2 hours a week of television. And we only hit the two hour mark if we watch a movie.. together! Lainey received a gameboy (refurbished!) with a few games (used!) for her 7th birthday that she plays every so often. But she really would rather play with her siblings. We play board games and read. We are creative. It was amazing how our children really started playing when we limited TV!

4. We control the messages that our children hear and challenge the ones that slip by. One message we are constantly told is "You can't give your children everything if you have a large family." We challenge that. Why would I want to give a child everything? How do you define everything? Does giving your child everything help or hurt them in the long run? What happened to delayed gratification? Hard work? Counting the blessings you do have? Earning something yourself? If I give my children everything, what is their motivation? Sorry, I don't want to raise my children expecting to be entitled to everything, at least not everything as the world defines it.

Long story short, I fell in love with my family all over again this last week. I love each and every member of our family for who they are and I'm excited to see who each child becomes. Each addition to our family has added another layer to our family make up. We are by no means perfect but I couldn't be more pleased with the direction our family is heading.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Divine Appointment... Disney Style

We are home! We had a fabulous week and I can't wait to share all of our adventures but first I'm so excited to share this story.

I believe in divine appointments. Years ago, I was the subject of a Divine Appointment myself. I get giddy when I realize that God has used me in encouraging others. So I want to share this little gem with you!

Thursday night we went to Downtown Disney and ate at Wolfgang Puck Express. It was delicious but soon after Solomon and Xander had the biggest meltdown of the trip. I suddenly felt like we should go "home" back to the hotel. I was a little bummed that we didn't get to look in some of the stores but I mentioned to Brandon that maybe we could come back the next night and he quickly agreed. We rode the Disney bus to the hotel, tucked everyone in and had some quiet time together. I couldn't get Downtown Disney off of my mind for the rest of the night.

Fast forward, the next day we went back to Downtown Disney. This time earlier in the night. They had a Santa there and since we hadn't gotten a chance to visit Santa yet this year, Brandon put us in line. Solomon started fussing and I knew he was ready to nurse. So I grabbed my nursing cover and headed to the nearest bench. There was a lady sitting there with a little boy.. maybe 3 or 4 years old. I typically try to sit by myself to nurse but for some reason (wink, wink) joined her on the bench.

Her son asked her why Solomon was under my nursing cover and she explained that I was feeding him and that was how she had fed him. We struck up conversation and before long we were chatting family and husbands. The conversation flowed SO easily, like when you call and catch up with an old friend.

The spacing of the boys came up and she was so kind! I mentioned we adopted and then we found out I was expecting and she asked The Question. "Were you trying?" I quickly said "Oh we weren't trying or preventing.. God builds our family." She smiled BIG and was very positive.

I found out that she was from RICHMOND! And she asked some questions about adoption. She shared which denomination she belonged to (happens to be the same as one of the agencies we used.)

Then she got a little quieter and said that she had had two miscarriages. One at 9 weeks and one at 16 weeks and that she wondered if statistically she was doomed because both of the baby girls had Turner's Syndrome. She went on to say that a genetic specialist encouraged her to try again and that statistically odds were in her favor. But that she had a little doubt in her heart and she just didn't know.... after all she had lost two baby girls in a row with the same genetic syndrome. She thought that those odds were significant.

I could tell she was hurting and needed encouragement. My heart was just skipping beats during this portion of our conversation. I looked her in the eyes and softly said "Our God isn't a God of statistics." And shared our amazing story (matched 2 weeks after we were approved to adopt, pregnant a few months later when earlier in our lives several "perfect, textbook" cycles with medical help didn't end in pregnancy, my VBAC, etc, etc.) Her eyes lit up and her facial expressions were TOTALLY different after I reminded her that God doesn't follow stats. He follows His planning! Her husband walked over during that part and you could just see the weight lifted off of his shoulders!

Right then, Lainey came over and when I acknowledged her she asked "Daddy wants to know if you are coming back?" Oh. Yes. I quickly said goodbye and started to walk away. I turned around, thinking "Oh maybe I should exchange some information.. and we could talk again." And just like that, she was gone.

I still have goosebumps. STILL! God can use you ANYWHERE. Even in Downtown Disney waiting in a Santa line. *grin*

Monday, December 6, 2010

Apple of my Eye

I just got around to downloading some pictures from our adventures.

And I realized that I never blogged about our apple picking adventure.

To be honest, there wasn't too much adventure. We went to Carter Mountain and well... when folks around here say the word mountain, I should understand that they REALLY mean mountain.

I prayed as we drove up the mountain... it was scary and our girls kept saying "Daddy, do you know how close you are to the edge? And how far down I can see?" Girlies, now is not the best time to point that out.

Once we got to the top we saw many beautiful views. I love how beautifully God has created this earth for us. What a creative God we have!

We attempted to pick apples but the drop offs were pretty steep and it was next to impossible to get our stroller down it (and then back up!)

What we could get to was already thoroughly picked. (See the flat path that Julianne is standing on? See the steep drop off in the left of that picture? YIKES!)

So we bought pre-picked apples. Look at that big one Lainey found! We bought some Jonagold, Gala and Fuji apples. We paid by the pound.

Brandon ordered a snack while I found a picnic table on the back side of the food building with a beautiful view! We were overlooking the valley and saw a hot air balloon!

Brandon and the children had apple cider donuts and I had a small BBQ sandwich. I was starving! (If I don't eat enough protein these days, I get very shaky!)

Xander is looking at the remaining donut... He REALLY liked them! Solomon is oblivous that we are on top of a mountain or that the older children ate apple cider donuts. He just cares that he has his fingers. He thinks fingers taste the best!

Then we prayed while Brandon drove down the mountain. PHEW!