Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In which the Malleycats go to Disney and more!

Let me preface this whole post by stating that yes, we know we are insanely lucky to have been able to go to DisneyWorld twice in the last 2 years. Let me also state that no, we are not made of money. We have our dear friend, Becky, who works at Disney and her insane hook-ups to thank for making it so we would basically be idiots NOT to go. This time she sweetened the pot by getting us all tickets to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter too! I mean, who would be stupid enough to pass that up?!

So off to Disney we went, but not without a few hitches. Due to a work conflict, we pushed the entire trip back a day but were luckily able to do so without too much trouble in terms of reservations. But when yet another work conflict came up and would push the trip back yet again, it was decided that Seth would have to fly out a day later than the rest of us and miss one of the days in the park-- which was a very doable plan C. Chanel and I could easily manage the kids on a flight (they really are super easy going travellers) and Seth would arrive the following day about 1 in the morning. So we got to the airport with plenty of time to spare and things moving along nicely. About 45 minutes before the flight Eloise decided she needed to go to the bathroom. It then became obvious that this little girl was all sorts of constipated. I mean like, hadn't-pooped-in-who-knows-how-long kind of constipated. So for the next 40 minutes Chanel and I took turns sitting in an airport bathroom with Eloise who was feeling awful. When the plane was getting ready to board and poop was clearly not imminent, we forged ahead and got on the plane. The flight was uneventful and we landed in Florida around midnight. Obviously by this point the kids were dragging a little, but were being such champs. We headed down to the rental car area where we were scheduled to pick up a mini-van, after which we would drive to our condo and crash for the night! That is not, however, how things went. First of all, what is with the rental car process??! Why does it take one million years to begin with? And that's assuming there are no hiccups along the way. I waited for ages and ages until finally someone helped me. And by helped me, I mean informed me that there were no minivans available. I expressed my confusion at that being the case when we had specifically reserved just that. The guy assured me they would find another 8 passenger car for me, so we all continued to wait as patiently as possible. Eventually the guy announced that he had found us an Escalade and proceeded to tell me that even though he upgraded us to this luxury car, he wouldn't charge me for it. I expained to him that as nice as that was, it still wasn't going to fit all of us and our stuff in it, and he wasn't doing us any favors. Only because Seth wasn't there yet was I confident we could squeeze us in for the night and then we would worry about trading it in the following day. Finally around 1:30 in the morning he sent us over to the garage to pick up our car so we could be on our way. With four verrrrrry tired children in tow, we finally got to the garage, and spotted the Escalade just as another family was packing their stuff into it!! They had double booked the same vehicle for two different families, and we were about 30 seconds too late. So, back to the office I went where I waited for another full hour before they decided to give us some dumb Mercedes SUV that was even smaller than the Escalade. However, by 2:30 in the morning I no longer cared and just wanted to get the kids into a bed somewhere. So we made our way to the appointed vehicle only to discover what? You guessed it....another family putting their stuff in it. I gave the car rental guy a look that said, "if you don't get us in that car in the next 2 minutes I will ninja chop you in the windpipe" so he made the other family get out of the car and we began the process of the piling people and stuff into the equivalent of a really nice clown car. In the end, we managed to get everyone in a seatbelt, even though Lincoln was balancing a suitcase on his head, and bags were stuffed into every free corner. 30 minutes later we arrived at the condo and put the kids out of their misery.

And that's how we STARTED our vacation.

The next morning came ridiculously early, and we had scheduled ourselves to be at Animal Kingdom for the Donald Safari breakfast which meant we had to be ready and out the door by 9 am. I don't know about yours, but my children don't actually function well on 5 hours of sleep. And neither do I. But we managed to get there and enjoy our delicious breakfast (and if you ever wonder which dining experience you should have while in the Animal Kingdom, you most definitely want the Donald Safari breakfast buffet. It's ridiculously good, and you won't even be able to try everything there is it's so huge). That's when things started to go downhill. I realized that I hadn't actually brought any diapers or wipes into the park. This came to our attention after Oliver took the deuce of the century of course. So Chanel went and bought solid gold diapers and wipes from the parenting station, or at least you'd think they'd be made of goooooold for how much they cost. Oh, and speaking of pooping, Eloise had still NOT pooped by this point, making her both miserable and totally horrible to be around. She was the biggest growly-gus you've ever seen. By 11am I was ready to cut my losses and just go home, but by some miracle everyone got a second wind and we managed to really enjoy the rest of the day at Animal Kingdom.

Bennett was chosen as the Lion Leader in the Lion King Show. He led the audience in a round of roars. Not a shy bone in that kid's body.

I won't give you a detailed report of the rest of our trip, but the overview is thus: We did finally get a minivan instead of the Mercedes clown car, Eloise did finally poop (after laxatives, stool softeners, and apple juice galore--she's gonna love reading about that someday), we did finally get naps, Seth did finally arrive and join the fun and we had a fabulous time. Some of the highlights include:

* The Not-So-Scary Party at the Magic Kingdom where the kids got to wear their Halloween costumes and trick-or treat around the park

* Breakfast at Cinderella's Castle with all the princesses

*Riding Tower of Terror 7 months pregnant at Hollywood Studios, meeting the Toy Story Crew, Oliver's awesome meltdowns, and Seth's reuniting with Tigger at the Crystal Palace

*The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Pumpkin juice and butterbeer at Hogsmeade, choosing wands, Hogwarts and the general awesomeness of it all. I have to say it's not super little-kid friendly, but it sure is cool.

A huge thank you to our dearest Becky Baird who is not only an ambassador of awesomeness everywhere she goes, but who is just generally a wonderful friend who makes everything better.

In which I try resume our regularly scheduled program

There are a lot of reasons I haven't blogged in months, but there is one reason that stands out above all others: The pregnancy-induced narcolepsy I have had especially bad this time around. In all my pregnancies I've been really tired, and inclined to fall asleep at night while watching shows, or on a warm pile of laundry I'm supposed to be folding. But never have I been so exhausted as to fall asleep at stoplights, in the middle of a sentence, or every.single.time. I sit down. You can imagine what's happened every time I've sat down to blog. I just wake up some time later to realize that no blog has been written! It is no exaggeration when I say this has happened dozens of times, including three times since I've started this paragraph. Add to that the general busy-ness of my life, topped with the hectic pace of the holiday season and you can see how blogging has fallen lower and lower on the totem pole.

I do, however, want to share all the things we've been up to so I will forge ahead, no matter how long it takes, to recap the rest of 2011. Beginning with our trip to the Elegant Farmer in Wisconsin for our annual apple picking. You may remember that I'm slightly neurotic about maximizing the awesomeness that is autumn in the midwest. The sights, sounds, smells, flavors and experiences are honestly just a little more magical in Chicagoland than anywhere I've ever been--and picking apples in Wisconsin is the quintessential midwest fall experience. So when we missed last years' apple harvest by a few days, I was totally bummed out. There was no way that was going to happen again, so the calendar was marked about 325 days ahead of time so nothing could possibly come in the way of my memory-making again! The week of our adventure came, and the weather was beautiful, apples were a-plenty, and things were looking good.....until something horrible happened to my back. I wish I could tell you what that something was, but the reality was this: I stood up, immediately fell down, and couldn't get up again. I lay there on the carpet next to my couch for a long time trying to position my legs in a way that would allow me to put weight on them, but I couldn't even roll over. I hadn't felt anything "pop" like it had when I slipped a disk years ago, but the pain was just as intense. I had my phone next to me, so I called Chanel (Seth was out on a jobsite I think and not available) who said I needed to go see Doc Brown, the awesome chiropractor in their office building. I fully agreed with her, but explained that there was no way I was going to be able to get myself in a car, along with my 4 kids and drive 45 minutes when I couldn't even sit up. So being the awesome friend she is, she drove 45 minutes to come get me, get the kids in the car, and try to haul me in the car as well. I'm not sure how we actually got me in the car--but it wasn't pretty. The next 45 minutes driving there was excruciating as was getting out of the car and up the elevator to his office. Doc Brown told me that basically the baby was sitting on just the right spot that made things like sitting, standing, walking, breathing, and moving pretty much intolerable. So while that was good in terms of not having an actual injury, it was not good for much else. He manipulated me as best he could to relieve the pressure and sent me on my way. Getting to the car was a little easier on the way out, but within minutes of driving things started hurting a million times worse and I declare it the most painful 45 minutes ever. By the time we got home I couldn't move anymore. At all. And that's how things stayed for the next few days. I could not sit, stand, walk, or get myself from A to B without massive assistance. Of course my first thought was, "How am I going to go apple picking if I can't get up???" I realize that's not a normal thought for most people who are basically rendered temporarily paralyzed, but like I said before, I'm kind of neurotic about this particular time of year. Seth said there was no way we would be going, and I said, "watch me". So by the 3rd day I willed myself to stand up, and appear to walk somewhat normally enough to convince Seth that I'd had a total turn-around and was ready to go! Thankfully he bought into my ruse, and before long we were in the car on our way to Wisconsin. I would not have admitted it at that time, but holy crapola that car-ride was painful. And the fact that it lasted 3 hours didn't really help in the pain management department. But as soon as we got there it was immediately worth it. It was the most beautiful, sunny fall day and all was right with the world. We spent the afternoon picking apples and eating pie and I had my wish-come-true. And here is the photographic evidence:

It was worth every painful moment to be there with the gang
celebrating a tradition we will continue to enjoy regardless of injuries in our future. Oh! And in addition to snacking on tons of delicious apples, I also canned like 20 quarts of the most delicious applesauce ever, and only managed to blow up two jars in the process! I can't wait to do it again next year....