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.
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.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake.
This 3-bedroom 1,700 square foot villa was perfect for our crew.
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.
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...
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.
Top 3 Reasons All Moms Need A Getaway
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Holiday Inn. The opinions and text are all mine.