Walt Disney was a wise man. By Day three of our vacation I woke up and felt myself come alive. Disney is often the place where families go after a loss or a tragedy. After Nanny died, Pawpy, my mom, Jeni, Krissy and Jake all went. They were exhausted, sad, grieving but they hit the Florida sun and the happiest place on earth became a fortress for them. My mom has fond memories of that trip, even after such a devastating loss.
I will forever be grateful to Make-A-Wish for giving us the chance to devour time together before such a loss occurs. Sure, there has been other loss in our family and the structure is much different than it was before. But truly, there is good there too and with this trip I was able to regain the confidence and assurance that I have in trusting a plan greater than mine.
I was set free in so many ways.
On day three we decided to explore Animal Kingdom.
This was part of Disney that I had never seen before. I was so excited to be able to share it with the kids. I saw their excitement and fed off of it to feel my own. I saw things through their little eyes and with so much wonder. It was incredibly hot but we anticipated a great day.
When walking into Animal Kingdom you are greeted by the tree of life.
I have to admit that I was overcome by emotion just seeing it, as silly as it may seem. The tree of life is massive, sturdy, overwhelming in size and stature. It represents all things that I think about when I think of our Creator. It was incredible.
We didn't waste much time before we got settled onto a safari ride. We were looking forward to this most of all and it was just awesome. It was so bumpy and so exotic. I loved every second of it and the kids were just completely in awe of the animals we got to see.
We ate lunch at the Rainforest Cafe and although Mabel cried almost the entire time, it was still a really neat experience. The food was amazing and we topped off our day with a huge slice of cheesecake that was worth every bite.
Braden and Nora got to ride a dinosaur ride with Aunt Jeni and they seemed to love it. While they were away I snuck in some cuddle time with Mabel in the middle of a park that truly felt like paradise.
My most favorite part about the entire day and probably one of the greatest highlights of the entire trip for all of us was getting to watch The Lion King live. It was so awesome, even Mabel loved it!
The day was hot and proved to be long but we were definitely not going to miss the animal parade. We got a great seat, ate some ice cream and waited for it to begin. And then Braden had to go to the bathroom so he and Aunt Jeni missed a good deal of it. No surprise.
After our long day away from the resort we were just happy to get back. The kids swam like they did all week and we thought about doing fireworks. Instead we got word that there would be a Pirate and Princess party at the pool and we just couldn't deny that it would be more exciting than fireworks!
This night was the definition of magical.
There were characters, a beautiful sunset, princesses and pirates that put on incredible shows, games, music, dancing and lots of mama's who cried tears of joy and sorrow, pain and acceptance. It was beautiful.
Nora got to become a real live princess.
Braden got to become a real live pirate.
The prince decided to dance next to Nora and she blushes every time I mention it. He was sure dashing!
And Braden became quite fond of the handsome prince himself. They played kick ball together and when I would look across the lot I saw brother laughing and laughing. It was so sweet.
The night concluded with all of the new princesses and pirates being announced on the stage for everyone to see. Nora got a wand and Braden, a sword. They were in full character mode from this point forward.
Brave Pirate Braden.
There were several princesses and pirates and all were just as beautiful/handsome.
This night solidified so much in my heart and the days to come would prove it...