9/15/2016

The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World

This post is sponsored by Holiday Inn brand. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!

Beep, Beep, BEEEEP...4:30 a.m. came fast. Too fast.

We'd been up all night popping zippers off our luggage while packing for vacation.

It felt like we'd just closed our eyes before our alarm clocks were blaring at us.

So we shuffled downstairs, brewed some strong coffee on the Keurig, loaded up our minivan with diapers, bottles, sippy cups, snacks...and more snacks; and we buckled our sleepy kiddos securely into their car seats before driving on the dark interstate to the airport.

With our three daughters in tow plus two suitcases, two carry-ons, a diaper bag, purse and MASSIVE, heavy car seats, we huffed and puffed our way down from the fifth floor of the long-term parking garage and into the airport where ((drum roll, please...)) Grandma and Grandpa were waiting!

With their arms stretched wide for big hugs from their squealing granddaughters, Chris and I were finally able to catch our breath.

We could totally do this flying-with-three-kids thing...with their help. 

Hand-in-hand with Grandma and Grandpa, our giggly toddlers smiled and skipped their way through the security line.

They talked about airplanes and Mickey Mouse and swimming at our hotel until we boarded the plane.

The tiny plane.

The aisles were so small, I could barely squeeze into Row 17 without hitting my head on the carry-on compartments, let alone carry in our children and belongings.

Thankfully, my parents were there to help buckle them safely into their seats.
And just like that we were off on an adventure.

It was an adventure that included four flights at three airports with two layovers, a very squirmy 1-year old, a loud 3-year old and a smiley-but-sometimes fussy 5-month old.

"Thank God my parents are here," I said as I rested my head on my husband's shoulder and watched our teething baby girl old smile at her grandma; both were sitting across the aisle.
After sprinting through the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport to catch our connecting flight (YOU'RE WELCOME FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT, FELLOW FLYERS), we found ourselves on the final stretch to Orlando. And before we knew it, we were unlocking the doors to relaxation and fun at our home away from home: Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake
This 3-bedroom 1,700 square foot villa was perfect for our crew. 
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake
The girls claimed their beds right away, but with swimming pools, hammocks and a lazy river at the resort, their bedtimes were pushed back -- after all, there was fun to be had!
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake
We woke up the next morning to the Florida sunshine beaming through the patio windows and the smell of freshly ground coffee brewing in the kitchen.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
Then we hopped in our rental car and drove a few miles down the road where we had reservations for a special breakfast at Disney.

As if on cue, one of the girls had to go potty and another needed a new diaper (and new outfit, eh hem...), and we nearly missed our reservation. Grandma and Grandpa to the rescue. We weren't gonna miss this memorable breakfast buffet with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, too.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
Maybe the red velvet pancakes hot off the griddle and assorted gummy bear toppings had something to do with it, but this breakfast was so much fun.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
As I sipped my coffee, I couldn't help but sit back and smile.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
The girls were just as excited to see their favorite Disney characters as they were to share these breakfast memories with their Grandma and Grandpa.

And as the days continued, I began to realize it's them who made this trip so special.

It's them who captured these candid moments of our family meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time...
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
It's them who shared epic proportions of dessert after dinner...
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
It's them who danced to the girls' drumbeats in the streets of Harambe in the Animal Kingdom...
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
It's them who cooked heaps of pancakes and sausage and sliced up fresh, juicy peaches for us to enjoy in our pajamas...
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake
It's them who kept the girls smiling in long lines to meet Donald Duck...
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
Who rode safaris...
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
...and pushed strollers and made cardboard cutouts of cars outside Dino-Rama seem like the most fun thing in the world.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
They made the "Happiest Place on Earth" even happier because they were there.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
If you ask my daughters about their Florida vacation and who they saw they'll be the first to say, "Grandma and Grandpa." They'll follow-up shortly with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, of course. But at the very top of that list -- the highlight of their vacation -- is spending time with Grandma and Grandpa.

And that's when it hit me -- after all the preparing for our Disney trip (the breakfast reservations, the food, the outfits, the Magic Kingdom "Fast Pass" selections...), my children taught me an important lesson:

It's not about where you are; it's about who you're with. It's about who you're sharing the journey with that makes it extraordinary. And there is nothing more pure and genuine than the love of a Grandma and Grandpa.

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Tomorrow

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Holiday Inn. The opinions and text are all mine.

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