Rich and I decided to hold off on telling the girls about this trip until the morning of Departure Day for a variety of reasons. If you have kids, you understand the ceaseless questioning that goes along with them. I wanted the focus to be on school and the holidays, not on vacation. In addition, there was some medical stuff going on with my family, which meant that there was the possibility that we would have to cancel and 5 year olds don't really understand that.
A few years ago, there was a video going around on the internet of a mom surprising her little girl with a Disney trip. Instead of being excited, the little girl cried. When I watched that video, I didn't understand why the girl was upset. Now I get it. It's just too overwhelming. After we all rolled out of bed on the morning of Departure Day, we sat the girls down in the family room and told them about the trip. Rich taped it (video clip can be viewed here) and as you can see, they were shocked and didn't know what to think. (Please note that I only wear my 13 year old velour track suit at home. Rich tells me that I'm like an old man when it comes to clothes and hold onto items long past their expiration date. If it still fits and isn't falling apart, why dispose of it? I only wear it in the house!)
Allie is a total mini-me. She was upset over the fact that she was going to miss a few days of school. Rich and I had already spoken with all of the teachers and everyone had said, "Have a great time!" What I discovered a few minutes after that video clip was that Allie's class was supposed to be creating paper plate snowmen and she had been looking forward to it and now she was going to have to miss out and WAH. (All's well that ends well - when we returned from vacation, Allie was able to make a paper plate snowman at school. Yippeee!)
We live between two airports: Boston and Providence. Providence's airport is much smaller so even though the flights are limited, it is usually our airport of choice because of how easy it is to get in and out. Our flight was scheduled for 3:15 in the afternoon with Jet Blue. The girls had dance class that morning and Grammy offered (I begged her) to take them while I finished packing. It was going to be too early to feed them lunch after dance so we figured we would just give them a snack, pack up and head to the airport early.
I was still packing when they arrived home from dance and all I could hear was Allie crying in pain. I ran downstairs to find her sitting on the couch, holding her neck. Apparently, after Grammy had packed them up into the van after class, Allie started complaining that her neck hurt and she couldn't move it. YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME! I don't think she was faking either because by that point, she was excited (but still a bit in disbelief) for the trip. I gave her some Tylenol and kept my fingers crossed. She complained a few times throughout the remainder of the day and definitely had some trouble moving her head around. After that, she only mentioned it here and there and whatever had happened went away. Thank goodness!
We arrived at the airport shortly after noon and pulled up to a closed curbside check-in. "Oh, yeah. I forgot to tell you... I may have read that they are closed in the middle of the day." We quickly came up with a Plan B. We unloaded the girls and the strollers and moved them just inside the airport with Grammy. As Rich unpacked the van, I carried everything inside. Rich then went to park the van while we all waited. Because the airport is small, we didn't have long to wait. We then moved everything to the Jet Blue counter.
I have to say that the people working for Jet Blue in Providence were awesome. There was no line and as they were checking in our bags, they spotted the three large car seats perched on top of the strollers and asked us if we wanted to check those in as well. The first suitcase per person (weighing under 50 lbs) was free. Although checking in the car seats was also free, I was hesitant to do so because I'd heard those horror stories of car seats getting beat up by the airlines. I mentioned that to them and while they didn't assure me that this was impossible, they did say that they would wrap them in plastic. I agreed and I admit that it did make our lives easier. The car seats were not damaged but that plastic was ripped in places when we retrieved them in Orlando.
Before we could even ask, the folks at Jet Blue told us to we should pre-board. One of the women working at the counter was also going to be at the gate too. I needed to cath Anna right before we boarded and I wanted Em and Allie to use the bathroom as well. She was able to tell us almost the exact time that they would begin boarding, which was a huge help in trying to plan that last minute bathroom break. They even gave us free headphones for the girls. Again, super nice and helpful.
The girls were well behaved at the airport even though we had a longish wait. We ate a lunch of sandwiches and pizza in the food court area and then hung around the gate. In addition to coloring books, crayons and school worksheets, the girls had packed buddies into their carry-on bags. They pretended that the strollers were planes and gave their buddies rides around an empty area of seats.
The plane was completely full and we were seated in the 2nd to last row. Allie and Emily sat with me while Anna chose to sit with Grammy and Rich. Smart girl. She didn't have to fight for a window seat. Being their first flight, the girls thought that we were in the air shortly after we took our seats. We hadn't even pulled away from the gate. It was kind of funny. Every 30 seconds, someone would ask, "Are we up in the sky now?" The girls, again, were very well behaved on the plane. I didn't mind being near the back of the plane as it was convenient to bring the girls to the bathroom. I even brought Allie in when we reached the gate in Orlando.
Oh, Allie was scared when we landed. She yelled out, "Mommy, hold onto me!" I had one arm around each kid. The flight was two hours and forty minutes long, which was just about my limit. I ended up with a terrible headache even though I thought I had stayed hydrated. It took awhile for me to lose the feeling of moving at 400 miles an hour.
It felt like it took forever for us to leave the Orlando airport. While we were waiting for the suitcases and car seats, I cathed Anna and Grammy brought Emily to the bathroom. We then had to figure out how to transport all of our luggage to the rental van. Those little luggage carts you can rent were much too small so we hired a guy with a proper luggage cart. It took an incredibly long time for the rental car people to show us to our van and then Rich had to install three car seats. Our flight landed around 6:00 pm and we finally arrived at Disney's Art of Animation resort shortly before 7:30 with three very hungry little girls. Rich went to check in while Grammy and I escorted the hungry ones to the food court. I was actually a bit shocked at how crowded it was at that time of night.
I was pleasantly surprised with the weather. It was still fairly warm and humid even though the sun had gone down. As Rich and I were unloading the van and moving the luggage to our suite (no easy feat, I tell ya) I laughed at how I had almost brought my winter puffy vest to wear.
Up next - My review of Art of Animation