From the moment we told the kids we were going to go to Disneyland, Natalie was talking about seeing Minnie. On the morning of our adventure, she chattered away in the van about all of the things she would tell Minnie. "I tell her I like her show, Bowtique!", "I show Minnie my dress!", "I tell Minnie 'I love you'!".
We hit the front gate a little later than planned due to a whoops in leaving our tickets in the van 2 miles away by tram, but we finally got in. And it was a good thing! Minnie and friends were all gathered around the entrance with long lines to wait in to see them. There were half a dozen characters around, but just to be on the safe side, we waited in line of the most important one... Minnie, of course. Just after we joined the queue, a Disney worker stepped in behind us and closed the line! Whew! Close call!
Natalie's long awaited turn arrived! She stood frozen and dazed. I was worried that it was all too overwhelming for her, but wide-eyed and faintly smiling, she took it all in.
Minnie spoke her language, which is basically pantomime, and she compared their bows, dresses and flowing skirts. Natalie forgot everything she had wanted to tell Minnie, but her eyes were sparkling with the moment.
Those folks that are able to be so sweet in their 4,000 degree costumes on a million degree day all for the sake of one little child are right up there with preschool teachers and pediatric dentists in my book.
That little face! Oh my goodness!
I'm not kidding when I say she could have gone home right then
and been the happiest little girl in the world.
Somewhere in this firetrap of a house I have a photo of Ethan, Adam and Ellie in this same tree when they were very small.
Adam hung out with me from time to time as Guy and I took
turns holding Natalie while the others went on a wilder ride.
Nano telling Adam all about Minnie.
My cute fam. Jonah was being Anti-Camera at that moment.
I can always count on Adam to help with Nano. He probably carried her half the day.
Later in the day we came across Pooh and friends.
Natalie's enthusiasm for them was as great as ever.
Jonah, however, was not impressed.
We were one year too late,
as he had realized that they were just real people in costumes.
But Tiger wouldn't give up on him. He bounced and jiggled
and shook his booty at Jonah until he got a laugh and a hug out of him.
Maybe there was a little magic left in it for him after all.
Nano, of course, was in heaven!
If you look in the back, you will see Natalie covering her eyes...
The Winnie the Pooh ride is terrifying, after all!
We had our first Dole Whips ever. I highly recommend them!
Is it hot, or what!?
No horsing around out of these two.
Ha ha. See what I did there?
I'm not sure why, but Jonah was quite serious as well.
Mid-day slump, or maybe he just got the wrong white horse?
The second highlight of Natalie's day... sitting on Minnie's bed in her house.
When asked later about the trip, Natalie would tell everyone, "I sit Minnie's bed!!!!"
Love Jonah's face. He's either camera-phobe
or clown, with very little in between.
Yay for big brother!
When I look back on these pictures,
I see over and over again how much Adam was helping.
We've never eaten at a restaurant at Disneyland before.
It's like Denny's, with a mortgage.
Small World...one of my favorite rides. I love to do this ride at the end of the day. It's quiet and slow, and I can take in my family and really feel grateful for being able to have this time together. These moments are frozen in my memory banks, and linked together with others like them. Somehow that music is like a sweet soundtrack to childhood.
Until two hours later when it's still in your head.
Then you want to take an ice pick to the speakers.
That is generally frowned upon.
The last ride of the night. The former submarine - now Nemo ride. The line was delayed and we hadn't planned for this ride to be our last of the night, but it just worked out that way. We were sleepy and the park was nearly empty. We just chatted and snuggled in the line as we waited. It was nice.
Adam has no idea how much of an influence he is in his sibling's lives.
Everyone getting along.
Maybe they pump some nitrus oxide into the air.
That's my house there in the background. Actually, did you know you can go IN to the castle? Like IN in. Walk upstairs and such. It was a childhood dream come true. I had always felt jipped just walking through the gate and popping out on the other side. Now you know!
This moment actually occurred earlier in the evening, but I placed this photo here because of something Guy told me. He and Adam had gone to ride some fast ride while the other kids and I went to watch the parade. After it was over, we tried to make our way back to Small World to meet up with them, but the route was blocked for the fireworks show. I sat on the ground with the kids and watched their faces light up over and over with each burst in the sky above.
Guy, on the other side of the park, leaned over at about that same time and said to Adam, "If I know your mother, she's crying right now."
And he knows me.
Because I was.
At a certain moment, the music and the lights and the message they played at the end all overwhelmed me, and I had begun to cry a little. It was all in their design, I know. It had all been carefully choreographed to illicit such a sentimental, nostalgic response. And I'm okay with that. It's not too often in daily life we are compelled to think with gratitude about all that we have been blessed with, so if someone sets the stage, lights it and orchestrates a score for it, who am I not to take advantage of it?
As they sing in Frozen... Let it Go~!
And I did! *sniff*
By the end of the night, The Littles fell asleep all piled into one stroller.
And as is our tradition, we tried to be the last car to leave the parking lot. There were a few others, but we were definitely in the running. Well, walking. Our feet were really tired. We had run all the way to the last tram and made it with only 3 minutes to spare.
It wasn't the trip that was planned,
but it was the one that was had.
And I loved it.