Friday morning, I woke at 4-something-early-o’clock and pulled together a backpack with underthings, pajamas, a pair of fancy shoes, and work laptop. The husband would start driving the children to Orlando on Saturday morning, alone, while I would meet them in Orlando midday Sunday by way of Pittsburgh, PA. My cousin planned a last minute, “I would like to deduct my three future step-kids on my 2017 taxes” wedding for December 30, so the Prof found me the cheapest flights possible from NOLA to PA, and PA to FL (hence not even a carryon or purse – Spirit airlines charges $30 to use the overhead bins and won’t even pass out free water, but the fare is low low low).
My mother’s brother’s son was getting married. Since my mother’s side of the family was thus fairly occupied with quick wedding planning (and cookie-baking, for the traditional Pittsburgh cookie table), we stayed with my father’s side – his sister, and her husband. This was during the heart of the polar vortex, so it was about 1 degree and snowed heavily all day Friday. The drive to my aunt’s place was hilly and a bit slippery, but we were firmly ensconced in her warm, welcoming home when it started really coming down. I enjoyed being there – and I think she enjoyed having all of us there. My entire nuclear family wasn’t able to make it, but a lot of us were – me, my brother, my youngest sister and her baby, and my parents. Five of the “original” seven, plus a bonus baby to boot. It was lots of fun sharing him with the extended family. He was 7 months just about exactly at this time – busy, heavy, almost army crawling. And of course now, three weeks later, he can crawl, sit up, and pull up – it happens so fast!
I spent much of the wintry, snowy day working. I was able to do it in the room with everyone – it was a doc review, so nothing too taxing, but I did have thousands of pages to try to frantically get through before the Disney trip. I tried to keep one eye on the doc review, and the other eye and both ears on the conversation around me. So goes the life of a BigLaw lawyer.
The snow stopped midday and my uncles spent some time blowing snow off the drive and walkways. So many chores we Southerners never grapple with, never think about. We made it through the 1 degree, windless frigid air to the wedding. Where Charles was passed around among aunts, uncles, and cousins, while enjoyed the hospitality of cousins we wish we saw more of.
I fretted pretty much the whole evening that I wouldn’t make my flight in the morning, or that if I could it would be delayed due to ice. However, none of those things happened, and I arrived in the much warmer climes in Orlando midday Sunday. I caught the Mickey mouse bus thing from the airport to Port Orleans Riverside, and I beat most of the family there.
I lined up in the lobby of the Port Orleans to check in, and my in-laws texted that they were right outside and would take me to my room adjoining theirs. We met and drove over, and very shortly after arriving, the rest of the crew showed up.
Our rooms were all in a line along the second floor. The resort itself, modeled after the French Quarter and Louisiana swamp (ha! a home away from home), was lovely and comfortable. We had two queen beds in our room, plus a fold down twin that Craig slept in. Our first day, Sunday, was not a day in the parks – we would meet, get settled in, have dinner, and wish each other happy new year before an early bedtime (normally I’ll stay up til midnight, but it seemed more prudent to get some rest before the long next day). At dinner we feasted on Mickey ear ice cream bars, and then the boys swam and played on the waterslide at the pool. This was the only warm day there – we would not get out the swimsuits again.
Overnight the polar vortex had made its way south, and the morning dawned chilly and misting with rain. Nevertheless, we were prepared for this, and we suited up in warm, waterproof clothes, gathered our Mickey fanny packs (the boys) and Mickey ears (the boys) and maps and iPhone apps (the adults), and headed toward breakfast of Mickey waffles and sausage, and then the bus.
We had a fast pass for Space Mountain first thing, so we headed straight there.
Liam loved Space Mountain – this was the beginning of his love affair with roller coasters. It was also proof that Jack’s hatred of roller coasters has not dimmed. He had a panic attack, bit through his lip, banged his head uncontrollably on the seat back – all in all made me deeeeeeeply regret having him ride. It set the tone for the rest of the trip, making him nervous and obsessive about each later ride. Whoops. Mistake.
After Space Mountain, we headed towards some indoor rides to spend some time out of the rain, including Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid, the Peter Pan ride, and It’s a Small World (sadly, broken so we never did ride it).
After Pinocchio Haus, we headed to Pirates of the Caribbean, one of my favorites. Then we coaxed Jack to ride with us on Splash Mountain. It was a chill day, but heck we were already wet. My brother in law liked to fake Jack out by hollering at every drop, even the tiny ones, and by the end Jack had good humor about it.
After this, we hoofed it to the Country Bear Jamboree to try to warm up inside a bit. Craig had had a mild fever part of the day, and I felt a little bad dragging him around in the cold and rain, but he was a real trooper. It was good to get him warmed up for a bit. We also did the Tiki room, the Aladdin magic carpet ride, and got some Dole Whips.
Then the littles were really cold and it was time to take them home. Dee Dee and Chip Ip walked them and our non-roller-coaster-rider Jack back to the hotel, and the rest of us rode Thunder Mountain Railroad. And it. Was. Awesome. Then we shivered our way back to our rooms to get warm and rested.
And that was Day One!