My parents and husband wonder what happened...
I used to be a normal suburban stay-at-home-mom...
Now I am an obsessive Disney planner...and I am not quite sure how it happened.
As a child, I always wanted to go to Disney, but with the way my siblings were spaced out over twelve years, it was just never in the cards for me. (Growing up in the southeast, I am pretty sure that might count as child abuse, but I digress.) My parents took my two youngest siblings when I was in college and by that point, I had lost interest in going. By then, I was almost anti-Disney. Perhaps it was the bitterness of never seeing Cinderella castle in person, or never walking down Main Street with a Henry VIII turkey leg. I also found myself annoyed with the fact that Disney movies always seem to kill off the mother. Seriously, what does Disney have against mothers? Then along came the princesses with all of their frothy pinkness. I was a tomboy growing up and the princess concept seemed completely foreign to me. The Disney marketing machine just went into overdrive with the whole princess thing. As a business major, I could respect the marketing plan, but as a consumer with no Disney connection, it was just plain old annoying.
My world was forever changed on a warm summer day with the birth of my first child. I was blessed with a little girl, a perfect, beautiful little girl. As a dyed in the wool tomboy, I was a little distressed by the amount of pink that seemed to come along with her, but I dressed her in it anyway. I swore that she was not going to be a television watcher, but that quickly went by the wayside when I discovered that TV was the key to personal hygiene. No TV, no shower. And of course, I swore NO Princesses. I managed pretty well on that front for about three years. Then along came Juliana, a perky little preschooler with a sparkly, purple Ariel lunchbox. I could see my daughter's eyes lock on that lunch box like a fighter pilot zeros in on his target. I knew the jig was up. At that moment, the princesses came into our lives full force. About that time, we were blessed with another little girl. My parenting style switched from "proactive" to "survival" during those early months. I began seeking the path of least resistance in making sure Big Sister was happy and entertained. Before I knew it there were princess dress up gowns, "tappy shoes", tea sets, books, and puzzles. Not only did I have a girly girl on my hands, I had a Disney loving girly girl. It all seemed to make her so happy that the frozen anti-Disney corner of my heart melted...just a little.
I knew that at some point a Disney trip was going to be inevitable. I started talking to my husband about a visit to the mouse in a few years when our youngest would (hopefully!) be easier to manage. He agreed and I started to get a little of my childhood excitement back. Another preschool year began and by the end of September, I noticed that nearly every child in the class had gone missing for a week. Stomach virus? Croup? Flu? Nope...Free Dining. As each child returned, proudly displaying their Mickey Ears for show and tell, I knew our timetable just got moved up. After frantically reading The Unofficial Guide and interviewing every parent at the morning drop off we were finally ready to commit. We were going to Disney World!
I planned and scheduled out trip in only five weeks. I was so overwhelmed by the planning and organizing that I really did not have time to get excited. Finally, on a cold dreary January day we were off! We visited Epcot on our arrival day and had a lot of fun. Our first full day was going to be spent in the Magic Kingdom. As our bus rounded the corner past the Contemporary, the Mickey Mouse Club theme song began to play. All of a sudden I had trouble swallowing around the lump in my throat. What was happening to me? My kids were wiggling with excitement and before I realized it, so was I. Once we made it through the turnstiles in an early morning spring for Dumbo, we all got our first full view of the castle. My eyes misted over, my oldest gasped in awe, my toddler pointed her chubby little hand and said "Look!", and like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day. We officially became a Disney family...and I became a nut.