When Zach’s dad first talked to him about the Ireland trip my heart instantly went out to Zach’s mom. Sure, she isn’t a golfer. But it would crush me if Zach planned a trip to Europe for his birthday and I wasn’t included in his plans! Even if it made sense for her not to go (and I’m sure her feelings weren’t hurt in the way mine would be) I still felt bad about it. I talked to Zach about trying to make sure she had some special time too while they were all away.
Typically each summer there is also a Parker Family Trip with ALL of Zach’s side of the family (his parents, sisters, and all the kids). Zach and I were under the impression that it wasn’t happening this year so we thought it’d be nice to invite Zach’s mom and sisters down to the Disney House for a few days so his mom could get to have all the grandkids together. Even though the men wouldn’t be there, it’d still give her the memories and experience with all of her grandchildren in a vacation setting.
My original intention was for them to come down for a couple days and just kinda hang out. Maybe do a character meal at one of the Disney resorts etc. As it got closer, they all decided they wanted to take ALL the kids for two full days at the parks.
While yall know I’m ALWAYS down for some Disney I was honestly not too keen on this plan. First because I’d be solo with my four kids without Zach there to help me. And while I had done that by myself it’s a VERY different experience going to the parks when you have passes versus going with a HUGE group of people who all PAID the $100ish per person per day to be there. The vibe of a pass holder is very chill. I can stay a couple hours and leave. I don’t feel like anything is “must do” because I know I’ll be back.
My second concern was Spear. I wasn’t comfortable taking my infant to the parks for two FULL days. Especially not in the heat of June. Yes, Spear has been to the parks many times but he has only gone for a couple of hours each time, and only skipping one nap. He’s never gone for a full day and I honestly didn’t feel like it would be safe for him to do so at his age in that heat.
Lastly they decided to go to Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Which, again, yall know I LOVE Disney. I love ALL the parks. But Animal Kingdom? It’s THE hottest park (intentionally I recently learned…they designed it to be more hot for the animals who are used to higher temps). And the most spread out. And Epcot? There just isn’t a TON of stuff to do for little ones. Not only was I not comfortable taking Spear all day at any park, but especially not at these two. Really the MOST kid-friendly/baby-friendly/easiest with kids park is Magic Kingdom. Hands down. If I’d been asked my opinion that would have been the park I’d recommended doing with 8 kids and only 3 adults and 2 of the kids being infants.
I was kinda caught in a tough spot because my options were to either go against what I felt was best for my children and myself and push through and do the two full days with all the kids. OR have the kids and I stay at the house and only go with the whole crew for a few hours each of those days. I didn’t love either option. I wasn’t comfortable at all with the idea of Spear being there for two full days like that, but I also didn’t want the other kids to miss out on the fun time with their cousins either. I can’t fathom saying “sorry guys we gotta stay at the house while everyone else is having fun!”
I recently have been reading Boundaries and I cannot recommend it ENOUGH. I never really realized how terrible I am at setting boundaries in my relationships until I read the book and it’s been a GAME CHANGER for me in every single area of my life. It’s awesome. And in reading it I have learned it’s not WRONG to speak up! To say “hey this isn’t what’s best for my family!”
So I did! I talked to Zach’s mom about my concerns and she was SUPER understanding about it all (of course she was…she’s like one of the nicest people on the planet and I felt so silly for not just having talked to her about it sooner!). Since the house has SO much space we came up with a plan to invite a couple other people to come along with us to join in the fun but to also keep the babies in the afternoons so the babies could just go for the first few hours each day and then be in the comfort of their schedules and routines and ac the rest of the day 😉
It truly could NOT have worked out better. I LOVED having Mema and Cheryl there with us and got to spend some solid quality time with them which I enjoyed so much and they loved having a chance to get away for a bit and snuggle on some babies. Plus Mema’s sister lives near our rental house so they were able to surprise her with a visit too! It made the entire trip so much better and relieved so much stress off my shoulders about it. The whole situation was a HUGE lesson to me in listening to my gut, speaking up when I know what is best for my family, and not being afraid to approach people when I’m not comfortable with something. Boundaries for the win 🙂
Aunt Cheryl arrived later that evening but the rest of the group arrived Monday morning and met us at the Polynesian for breakfast/brunch at Ohana!
One blessed great-grandma!
Britt was so pumped to see Payton! All the BFF cousins were reunited (and yes, Britt crosses her eyes on purpose for pics)
Mema LOVES the babies! I wish she could just move in with me since the baby stage is not my fav 😉
Looking for the castle!
I am so, so thankful that Disney switched up the Ohana photo situation. Back in the day Lilo, Stitch, Pluto and Mickey all roamed the restaurant and came to the tables to visit. Awhile back they changed things where everyone would meet Stitch outside of the restaurant. It was AWFUL. You can read about our experience here. It was one of the few times I’ve ever complained to Disney.
I’m happy to report that Stitch is now BACK to roaming tables and Pluto is the current character serving as greeter outside the restaurant. Nothing against Pluto but this is a great switch up since he isn’t what I’d call a main character or common favorite meet and greet among guests.
The switch ran much smoother although I will say that the photo pass cast member wasn’t too warm or friendly and didn’t really take the time with us with Pluto that should have been allowed (especially with no line behind us). But that’s a disadvantage to being a later-morning reservation. I firmly believe characters and cast members are at their best first thing in the morning!
Tess loves bringing friends that match with the characters we’re meeting and the characters always love it too! It’s a great tip for some awesome interaction moments!
It took us quite awhile to be seated but I expected that since we added Mema to the reservation making it for 13 people rather than 12. Disney is typically very accommodating to these types of situations (changes happen, they roll with it!) but when added an additional person to a reservation, especially with an already large party, I knew we’d probably have a wait!
Right when we sat down though the characters came to greet us!
Lilo is so underrated to me…we’ve always had awesome interactions with her and she loved seeing herself 😉
Mema’s first character meeting 😉
But yall know who Spear was REALLY wanting to see….STITCH!!!!!!
It couldn’t have worked out better. I had NO clue that we’d meet Stitch the day before or that Spear would take to him the way he did. I loved that we got to meet him again the very next day as Spear’s face lit up and Stitch was OBSESSED with him too. As in Stitch kept coming back to our table throughout the meal to see Spear and give him extra cuddles. It was so cute!!!
It’s not clear who enjoys these kisses more 😉
So many smiles!!!
Character meals are such a great opportunity to enjoy GOOD food while getting to meet characters. It can be an awesome way to cut down on waiting in lines at the parks if you’re kids have favorite characters they really want to meet. The downside is that these meals tend to take up some time. It’s not like eating at McDonald’s where you are in and out. Usually we’re totally fine with that. Keep the food coming and we take as long as we can to get our fill ha!
Buttttt with babies who have already been waiting to be seated and were sneaking up on nap time? Spear got pretty fussy! Thankfully the characters were pretty quick and kids don’t take much to get full. Although the girls were chowing DOWN on some Stitch waffles! I swear Tess ate like 15 of them 😉
A really super cute thing they do at Ohana is a parade! All the characters join in and Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride is played while the kids get to dance around the entire restaurant. Yall know Britt was in her ELEMENT! (and Tess didn’t want to participate…my girls are such opposites ha!)
My biggest girl!
Spear and I were my only two rocking the Stitch attire (and how lucky did I get that I’d already bought his onesie and he just so happened to adore Stitch?)
Tessie and Carter love to rough house and entertain each other.
We had a great start to the Parker Family portion of the week! We got all the kids down for naps back at the house and that afternoon they all went swimming and we had pizza for dinner then got the kids in the bed nice and early for the first big park day the next day!
It couldn’t have been a better balance for the week with Daddy away. My kids got to have fun time with friends, time just with Mommy and time with their cousins and G-Mama. It was perfect and they were SO happy and having a BLAST!