Reliving my 20’s

A while ago I went back through some old photos from my "artsy photographer" days, and was kind of stunned at how much I loved their intimacy and raw, unfinished-ness.

This was before I got into more staged work with volunteer models, during my "cross-process all the films" phase. At the time, I didn't think much beyond random experimentation, and regarded most of my work as amateur-ish (it was) and therefore unremarkable.

But something about this unpolished, rougher version of myself speaks to me now; time and distance has made her a stranger. It's a bit like peeking into the window of a friend's house. I know her, but I don't *know* her, so I'm not inclined to judge.

Our Disney Vacation! Part 4

Day 6 – Disney Springs

We hadn’t planned to visit Disney Springs during our trip, but someone from the resort suggested it, and it seemed like a low-key way to spend our last day. Again, we went in the morning to avoid the heat and the crowds.

We did a little shopping and had lunch at T-Rex, a novelty restaurant with animatronic dinosaurs and a cave-like feel. Fun for the kids, and the gigantic Lava Flow made it fun for Mama, too. 😀

We also checked out the Disney Photo Pass Studio and used the Memory Maker to get some silly family shots, and some more traditional pics of the kids. There was no wait, and the photos took maybe five minutes. It could be fun to go back and do some more dressed up shots next time.

Day 7 – Travel

And before we knew it, it was time to fly home. It was the longest, shortest week ever.

Throughout the trip, we marveled at the kids’ exemplary behavior in the face of many new experiences, buoyed by the fun we had and the relative lack of stress. I expected more whining, more tears, more complaining; of course, there was a little of that, but nothing that lasted. I worried about spending so much money on one week, and that too-high expectations for our Big Family Vacation would lead to disappointment.

In the end, we had such a good week that none of us wanted to leave. Even Tim, our family’s self-proclaimed grump, was charmed. And despite my Scrooge-like concerns, the money was well spent, as it gave us time together as a family. My favorite souvenirs are the photos!

I’ve already drawn up a plan and a budget for a trip next January. With Starpoints, we’ll be able to fly for free, and thanks to the vacation club, we can stay in a larger 2-bedroom villa closer to the parks. We’ll skip the car rental to avoid the stress and parking fees, and use Lyft to get around. With a 6-day ticket to Disney, we’ll have more time to explore without the pressure of packing everything into three days. I really want to check out the evening activities at the parks and go to Epcot.

I’m so glad we did this, and can’t wait to go back!

Our Disney Vacation! Part 3

Day 4 – Rest Day

I’m glad we built some rest time into our schedule, especially since my leg was still acting up. You can see in my poolside lounging photo that it was quite swollen, even though the pain had mostly subsided by this point.

We took our rest day seriously; we slept in, snacked, and swam. The resort pool was excellent; not too crowded, with plenty of space for the kids to play, and located directly next to a small park/play area. The only real challenge was making sure Gwen didn’t drown herself. The kid can’t quite swim yet, but she’s not afraid to try!

Inspired by all the fun we’d had so far, Tim and I signed up for a vacation club/timeshare connected to our SPG account. Between earning double Starpoints and new Staroptions, we get steeply discounted rates and upgrades at a number of Starwood hotels and resorts. I hope to be blogging about a family trip to Kauai or the Bahamas in a couple years!

Day 5 – Legoland

I’ve wanted to take the kids to Legoland ever since I went to the San Diego park for work in 2012, so we took a day to go to the Florida park. We didn’t get to everything, not by far, but the kids had a good time. It seems like the park is designed more for the younger set, which meant Ellie and Gwen could do most rides on their own, making for a more relaxed time for Tim and me.

My favorite part was seeing all the LEGO sculptures and displays, and, of course, a trip to the LEGO store. You might be surprised to know I didn’t blow our budget on LEGOs, although I totally could have.

I have a feeling by next year, the kids will have aged out of Legoland (especially since they’re uninterested in the roller coasters and other “big kid” rides) so we probably won’t go back. But it was a fun way to spend a day for my LEGO-obsessed kids (and, let’s be honest, me too!)