16 of us (9 of which were children ages 2-8) traveled together from Minnesota to California. The primary reason for this trip was a family reunion on Monkey Toe's side and a Novena for the five year anniversary of his Grandfather's passing. Over a year ago, it was decided that we would take a little side vacation to Disneyland. We kept this a secret from the kids until the first morning we traveled to Disney. The plan was to make the announcement after breakfast, to which we expected lots of squeals, hugs, and smiles. The kids were all gathered and I said, "yesterday was a pretty tough day of travel. Because we had some behavioral issues, we will not be going swimming today. Instead, we will be going to DISNEYLAND!" Three of the nine children began to cry, because they really wanted to go swimming. We soon discovered that the kids had no idea what Disneyland is. They soon learned what it was and forgot about swimming for the 3 days we spent there. My Disney highlights included going on the ride, It's a Small World, with all of my girls. They absolutely loved it and their enthusiasm brought a huge smile to my face and a tear to my eye. The final day I spent with my boys and we rode Splash Mountain. Afterwards, we found a shady spot in New Orleans Square and shared Frozen Lemonades and Churros, while listening to a jazz band. It was a perfect ending to our time at Disney.
The remainder of our vacation was spent in the San Juaquin Valley with family. I met some of Monkey's relatives for the first time, who had traveled from Guam. We all gathered at Monkey's Grandmother's house, and each evening we prayed the Rosary, followed by dinner. This time that was spent with family, especially Grandma, was absolutely precious. Tears flowed as we said goodbye. One of the most emotional parts for me is the tradition of driving by Grandma's house (after we've said goodbye), with all of the family in the front yard waving as we drive past. This is my family through marriage and I can only imagine how Monkey was feeling as we drove away.
Unlike most vacations, or even long weekends away, I wasn't ready to come home. I wanted to stay longer, as did the kids. I think it was a combination of relishing in the gift of time granted with family and also knowing that this was our last hurrah for the summer; that upon our return home, the kids would be back in school, Monkey would be back at work, and our lives would be back to their routines. We had nine days of family focused time and it was marvelous.
I am grateful for the gift that this trip afforded us - a memorable and fun family vacation. I am humbled by those who helped to make this trip possible. I am grateful that my kids experienced another part of family. Above all, I am blessed that my heart grew in love and thanksgiving.
|23 of us at Disney and no one got lost!|
|Sweet Pea and Pumpkin at the end of the day|
|The first time the kids dipped their toes in the ocean|