2 moms. 3 kids. 1 amazing adventure.

Archive for the ‘family’ Category

{Two Turtle Doves}

Todays blog challenge topic is loved ones.

I have a multitude of wonderful childhood memories about my paternal grandparents.  Just to tell a few:

When I was 4 and 5 years old, I lived down a country road.  My grandparents owned a “river lot” with a little clubhouse that required them to travel past my house to get to.  If they would see me playing outside, they’d always stop, send me inside for permission, and then take me along.  My grandma was always ready for the possibility of my joining them.  She always had an extra sandwich–thuringer and muenster cheese spread thick with mayonnaise–at the ready.  At the lot, she always found little tasks for me to complete.  Sometimes I’d wipe down the counters in the clubhouse.  Other times, I would pull weeds on the patio area.  I’m sure I did a questionable job, but she always praised my hard work.  My grandpa would “need” my help on the riding lawn mower or would send me into the woods on some task or another.  I remember him offering me a nickel for every snake-skin I could find.  We never ended a trip without one of them pushing me on the airplane glider.

My parents divorced before I was 2 years old, so my mom would always drop me off at my grandparents house on holiday afternoons.  Instead of it being an awkward situation, my grandma always invited my mom inside to visit.  She’d make her a plate of delicious food and spend some time talking and catching up.  I remember her always ending the visit with a hug for my mom and an invitation to stop by anytime.  Her generosity and kindness were genuine.

My grandpa always had the same picture on his bedroom dresser.  It was a hand-tinted photograph taken of my grandma in the mid 1940s.  My cousins and I would just stare at that picture, mesmerized by her beauty.   Dark hair done up in an upsweep.  Green eyes sparkling with some unknown secret.  Full red lips smiling broadly.  Whenever my grandpa would see us looking at the picture, he’d join us.  He was a stoic man, but I swear he had tears in his eyes every time we saw him look at that photo.  He’d always say the same thing:  That’s how your grandma looked when I first met her.  I knew right then and there I wanted to marry her.  She’s beautiful, yes, but she has a spunky personality and a kind heart that make her more than just beautiful.  They make her radiant.  Surely I’m the luckiest man alive.  When he died about seven years ago, my cousin held up this photo and retold that story as he eulogized him.

After mid-day holiday dinners, the table was always cleared for a game of cards.   I’m not even sure the name of the game we played but it involved trying to get close to 21, knocking when you felt ready to show your hand so everyone knew they had one last play, and gambling with quarters.  The kids would all crawl into the adult’s laps so we could “help”.  If you were really lucky, you got grandma’s lap.  She would teach you how to count cards.  I guess that’s part of that spunky personality my grandpa talked about! 🙂

As I mentioned, by grandpa passed away seven years ago.  My grandma is still here–81 and as spunky as ever.  She plays cards on Tuesdays, bowls on Thursdays, and goes to Mass every Saturday evening.  I had the pleasure of spending a little extra time with her when I was visiting over Thanksgiving.  We snuck into a side room and had a private “catch-up” conversation.  We relived a few of the good old days and then she got very serious.  Shelly-Belly (a nickname only she is allowed), thank you for giving me such wonderful memories.  Thank you for the honor of being Amelia’s namesake (Amelia’s middle name is Ruth, after my grandma).  I’m proud of the person you are and I love you.  (pause).  Now, if your Dad will show me how to use his computer, I’m going to figure out how to use Skype and dial you up! 

 

 

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Every Child Deserves A Family

Statistics say that the U.S. has about 405,000 kids in foster care.   Each year, about 125,000 of those children are in need of an adoptive resource.

Olivia used to be one of those statistics.

And every time I find myself getting complacent about the fight for equality for our families, I remind myself of Olivia’s adoption day.  Dawn and I were both licensed as foster mothers for Olivia.  We both had equal standings and rights (or lack thereof, in some situations) for everyday decision-making and signing of papers.  Two and a half years after she was placed into our home–into our family–I adopted her.  Even though we were allowed to foster her together, when the case moved to adoptions only one of us could apply.  While we were able to be open and out in the homestudy, only I was listed as the petitioner for adoption.  Applying with both of us as petitioners wasn’t exactly against the law, but a joint petition had never been approved either.  By attempting it, we would likely be denied.  We would risk losing our daughter.  I’m all for a good fight, but not with a potential result like that.

As we sat in the courtroom on January 20, 2006, I glanced over and saw the tears in Dawn’s eyes.  I knew that most of those tears were ones of happiness at finally knowing we would never receive a phone call saying Olivia was being moved.  Some of those tears, though, were of sadness.  With the adoption finalized, Dawn had even fewer rights to our daughter than she did as her foster mother.  She could no longer sign off on medical paperwork, enroll her in school, or have an official title in terms of legality.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though.  The “Every Child Deserves A Family Act” has just been introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.  The House version of the bill already has 80+ bi-partisan (hard to imagine in this day and age, I know!!) co-sponsors showing support.  The “Every Child Deserves A Family Act” would work to increase the number of stable, loving homes available to those 125,00 kids in need by discouraging state laws and practices that prevent otherwise qualified and eager LGBT persons from fostering or adopting.

I wonder if it might have been different for us had this been around in 2006.  I’d like to think so.  Please consider contacting your Representatives and Senators to show your support of the ECDF Act.  One way to do so is by heading to the Family Equality Council‘s website, where there is a link to a simple form that will be forwarded to the proper legislators.

Let’s work to break down the barriers for building loving families!

The Sons of My Heart

Once upon a time, in my pre-wife and family life, I (and an ex partner) were foster parents to two young boys.  They came to us at two and three and a half years old.   Adorable, wonderful, sweet little boys.  They had been through a lot before placement, but were strong and resilient.  They soon fit right in and we grew as a family.  In those days, foster care procedures and policies were much different from they were when Olivia was placed (and, I presume, today).   Unfortunately, much of what happened to us (and my subsequent fight to change the system) is the reason things are different for same-sex couples who are fostering in my city today.

One thing that still hasn’t changed, though, is that case workers come and go at rapid pace.  For J and N, we were lucky to have competent, caring case workers.  Right up until the last one…the one that essentially stole my sons.  The case plan for J and N had just been changed to adoption.  Unfortunately, like was the case with Olivia, only one of us could petition for adoption because they wouldn’t allow a joint petition from a same-sex couple.  I became the adoptive resource and we began the wait for the court to approve the new goal so that a homestudy could get underway.

Then we got the case worker from hell.  The first time she came to visit our home, she was obviously uncomfortable with our family make-up.  At the end of our meeting, she outright stated that she didn’t think that our “situation” was right for kids to be a part of.   Whoa.  I called the supervisor, asking for a new case worker, but was informed that there was not another available, the case worker would be talked to about what happened, and that we should not expect any more problems.  On the surface–to our knowledge–this held true.

Until the day that the boy’s daycare center director called me into her office at pick-up.  Apparently, the case worker had not been filing the proper papers for payment of childcare services.  The daycare center had not been paid in two months.  The director informed me that she had attempted calls to the worker, but was getting no response.  She asked that I call and see if I might be able to get the situation resolved.  I assumed that it was an oversight on the part of the case worker.  Perhaps she didn’t realize that it was her responsibility to acquire the approvals for payment.

I called her and left her a message.  She called me back almost immediately.  When I explained the situation, she said it didn’t matter because she was having J and N removed from our home.  The next morning.  That she had a new foster family all lined up.  And that’s when I knew we’d been sabotaged.  Children in stable placements–adoptive resource placements–are not removed without reason.  Other foster families are not lined up–not waiting for last-minute moves–for no good reason.  I questioned the worker on the details, and she informed me that there was nothing I could do.  She would be there at 8 a.m. the next morning to move the boys.

I called the supervisor, but had to leave a voicemail.  I called my partner, A, and lost it.  She left voicemails for the supervisor and the supervisor’s supervisor.  We realized that we weren’t going to get through to anyone that late in the day, and knew this nightmare was going to happen.   I threw up in the bathroom while A called my best friend to arrange for everyone to get together with the boys that night .  What were we going to say to the boys?  How could we explain to two preschoolers that they were wanted and loved by us and that we would be fighting to get them back, even while they had to go live with someone else?

The next morning, the case worker arrived.  When she saw all the things–clothes, toys, books, bikes, etc–that belonged to J ands N, she said it wouldn’t fit into her car.  It would be left behind.  I refused.  Yelled that it was bad enough that this was even happening and they sure were going to have the things that were familiar to them and BELONGED to them.  It ended up that we had to pack it into OUR car and follow her to the new foster home to deliver it.

And that was where I last saw my sons.  As I took their belongings to the porch of their new “home”, I hugged them, kissed them, and sobbed.  I drove away and watched from my rearview mirror as  the case worker held them back as they screamed and tried to run after the car.  That image is forever burned into my memory.  Occasionally, I still wake up in the middle of the night from a flashback of this trauma.

I did talk to a supervisor.  It turns out that the case worker had outright lied in the case files.  She had actually written–I saw it with my own eyes–that WE had asked for the removal of J and N.   That was dated the same month that the daycare stopped being paid.  Two months before they were moved.  No amount of explaining this untruth made it go away.  Apparently, if it’s written into the case files it is the truth.  And if it’s not written there, it never happened.  Which is why, when I tried to connect the dots with the discriminatory circumstances surrounding our first visit and follow-up calls to the supervisor, there were no dots to be connected.  That supervisor (now long gone and replaced with someone new, of course) had never recorded any of that information in the file.  And so it never happened.  Despite my repeated requests to have  J and N moved back into our home, the requests were always denied.  The pain and stress of this eventually became a major contributor to the end of my relationship with A.

With a social worker at the foster care licensing agency, I worked to have changes made to the “system”.  Today, case workers receive training on working with same-sex couples who foster children, foster parents receive trainings on working with LGBTQ youth, and sexual orientation is specifically written into the non-discrimination policies of all involved agencies.  I’m glad that these are in place, but it still doesn’t bring me my sons back.

It does bring me to my current dilemma, though.  J turned sixteen a couple of months ago and I wrote him a letter, like I always do on each boy’s birthday, and put it in my memory box with his photographs and artwork.  As I wrote, it occurred to me that he could be on face.book.  And so I looked.  And there he was.  His page has a “friends only” privacy setting, but he has a very unusual first and last name and the profile picture, while not a close up, appears to be him.  I sit with this information, but I don’t know what to do with it.  Would he even remember me?  Care to remember me?  Can I face the reality of what his life has been like–good or bad?  I’m not sure.

Photographic Evidence

In the Apple Orchard with Grandpa Jerry

My Dad came up for a visit.  We had a wonderful time…except for the stomach bug that kept his long-time girlfriend, S, in the hotel room all weekend.

Picking Pumpkins

The very next weekend we went back to the same place for the pumpkin fields.  Notice that we were all wearing short sleeves (and were too hot in long pants!) last weekend, yet had to drag out the fleece jackets just seven days later (and were still cold!)?

Action Shot

We’ve watched Olivia play some great soccer.

Darth Vader

Olivia carved her own pumpkin from start to finish this year

Haunted House

We carved some fantastic pumpkins.  My carving contribution was an Elmo for Amelia, but I didn’t even realize until I uploaded pictures that I never took a picture of it.  I hope it’s not mush when I head out to snap a picture of it in all it’s lighted glory.  I just went to check:  Yep…mush.  There will be no photographic record of the cuteness.  😦

 

80s Day at school

Olivia and Owen dressed for 80s Day at school.  Yes, I’m completely aware that the 80s Rocker wig and the preppy turned up collar don’t go together.  🙂  I wanted to turn Owen’s curls into a “Flock of Seagulls” style or use a piece of the wig to make a “tail”, but he would have nothing to do with those once he saw this monstrosity!  Olivia thought it was HILARIOUS that I dressed like this every day when I was her age!

 

Two!!

Some little sweetheart decided she just had to turn 2!!!

Trick or Treat

We trick or treated in our neighborhood after the birthday party.  Yes, it’s weird, but our city doesn’t do trick or treating on Halloween.  The city schedules it for the afternoon of the closest Sunday.  Our neighborhood does their own little thing on the Saturday evening closest to Halloween.  It is VERY strange to get used to…

Anyway, Owen is Darth Vader.  The giraffe is Amelia.  Olivia is a preteen Dracula.  Other party revelers are a candy witch  and an (older) preteen Dracula.

Halloween Lunch Menu

Olivia and Owen had a little lunchbox surprise for Halloween.

Looks Delish!

The mummy and vampire blood were the biggest hit. 🙂
And there we have it.  One month condensed into just eleven pictures.  Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Mispronunciations

About midway through the last school year, Owen began receiving speech services.  It was something we and his teacher had kept an eye (well, ear, really :)) on for a while.  Since it didn’t seem like he was shedding some of his speech enunciation issues, we requested an evaluation.  His vocabulary/language use skills tested out YEARS ahead.  His speech enunciation skills were slightly behind in several areas.  Once he began seeing the speech pathologist weekly, we noticed changes quickly.  I know he slipped back a little over the summer, even though we did practice and play some of the games he’d used with his speech teacher during the school year.  But now that school is back in session, it’s unbelievable how much his speech has instantly improved.  His l’s are back to solid, even in blends.  He isn’t clipping endings nearly as much.  It’s like being at school reminds his brain of what his speech is supposed to sound like.  And, even though I feel a little guilty for thinking it, I’ll admit that I miss hearing his unique little speech sounds.  I’m, of course proud and pleased with his progress, but it’s another reminder of my little guy growing up…

Amelia’s speech has taken another huge jump in the last month or so.  She is constantly speaking in long (4-5 word) sentences and is into naming people’s possessions.  On our neighborhood excursions or while playing in the back yard, she is constantly saying things like “That’s Lizzie and Ellea’s house.” or “I see Tony’s garden!”.  She has a little trouble saying the name of one of our neighbor’s, though, and I find it most amusing (and slightly embarrassing).  Our neighbor’s name is Danny.  Amelia pronounces it Daddy.  So it’s constantly, “Hi Daddy!” and “That’s Daddy’s house!”  It’s a good thing the neighbor’s know us well!

While relaying this story about Amelia to my mom while we were visiting over the weekend, she reminded me of my own embarrassing (to her, anyway) speech mispronunciation:  As a child of about Amelia’s age, my mom–young and newly divorced–took me to a new church.  During the relative quiet of the sermon, she discovered that the church sat right across the street from one of my favorite community buildings–the fire house.  It seems I had the misfortune of not yet being able to enunciate my /tr/ blend.  So I began to holler, “Fire fucks, Mommy!  I hear fire fucks!”  Over and over again.  Loudly.  Very Loudly.  Did I mention it was during the quiet of the sermon?  I know this story well from retellings, but it was so hilarious to hear my mom tell it again.  After all these years, it still makes us laugh hysterically!

Vacation…part deux

Friday:  Epcot

Our day at Epcot started off well enough.  We rode a couple of rides in the front of the park.   Planning on coming back to use Fastpasses for Soarin’ later in the afternoon, we headed  to the back of the park to explore some of the countries.  We started our trip around the world in Mexico.  Dawn and Olivia stood in line to get an autograph from Donald Duck.  I took Owen and Amelia to ride a little boat ride at the back of the area.  They have the area set up as an open air market and I really wanted to explore the wares, but knew better than to get too close to the breakables with four small hands reaching for everything!  The boat ride features the escapades of Donald Duck.  Amelia fell in love.  She is obsessed with noses and Donald’s bill caught her eye.  She kept a running dialogue about his nose the entire ride.  When we were done, she immediately began signing “more” and “duck”.  Over and over and over.  We enjoyed chinese food for lunch and watched the belly dancers in Morocco.  It looked like rain was headed our way, so we took a boat back across the lake to the front of the park.  Dawn, not a lover of heights, took Amelia to explore while Olivia, Owen, and I rode Soarin’.  It was Owen’s first big-kid ride and he loved it!  I texted Dawn when we were finished and she was headed back to meet us when disaster struck.  Owen and Olivia were walking around a little green space area, holding the railing and balancing on the curb.  When Owen ducked under the railing into the mulchy area, I called for him to come back to the pavement (I was about 2o feet away on the other end of the little oval of space).  Instead of ducking back under, he chose the over-the-railing route.  The railing was wet from the rain shower and he slipped off–face first onto the pavement.  A drop of about 3 1/2 feet if you figure where his face started.  I ran over and scooped him up.  He had blood everywhere and was screaming.  I sat down with him to check the damage.

crash landing

Olivia spotted Dawn coming down the path and went running for her.  She immediately asked an employee where the first aid area was, but they took one look at Owen and told us not to move.  They were calling the paramedics to come to us.  Yikes!  The two Disney employees were obviously well-trained.  One ( a manager type person) stayed with us the entire ordeal.  The other acted as a runner–going to the main path to direct the paramedics and later, getting Owen a wheelchair.  I was panicking a bit because Owen kept going limp and quiet in my arms.  We finally figured out he was just so tired that he kept falling asleep due to being so still.  I had to kep him awake, though, because we were concerned about a possible concussion.  The lump on his head was HUGE!  The paramedics eventually got there, gave him a good once-over, and pronounced him okay.  No warning signs of concussion were present, so we opted not to be transported to the closest emergency room.  He got a wheelchair to use for the rest of the night.  As Greg, the manager-guy said, “Hopefully, a wheelchair will help make this memory at least a little happier!”  I’m guessing it worked because he asked for a wheelchair every day after that!

Saturday:  Hollywood Studios

We have a running joke in our family that everywhere we go, Olivia runs into someone she knows.  It happens all the time.   At Hollywood Studios, though, it was my turn.  We had been in the park for a while already when it happened.  We were about to split up–Dawn and the big kids to the Star Wars store and Amelia and I to see a Disney Jr. stage show.  We were right near a Disney photographer, so decided to get in the line to have a family picture taken in front of the big sorcerer’s hat.  I turned around and practically ran smack into a teacher from my school.  I immediately laughed and told Olivia, “Ha.  For once I ran into someone I know!”  We chatted for a few minutes (just long enough to remind me that he’s a real jerk :)) and headed on our separate ways.  Splitting up seemed to be the theme for our day.  Later, Amelia finally fell asleep in her stroller.  We were on day 4 of no napping, so it was really needed…and I really wanted to keep her asleep as long as possible.  Dawn took Olivia and Owen on a couple of rides and to watch a street performer while I walked and walked with Amelia to keep her lulled to sleep.  Later, I surprised the big kids by taking them back to Magic Kingdom to finish up what we’d missed out on due to the rain on our original visit.   When we’d arrived at the park earlier Saturday morning, I’d snuck over to the ticket window to have a park hopper option added to our tickets.  Dawn and I had talked about how badly we felt that we’d missed out on so many things the kids had really been looking forward to at Magic Kingdom, so we decided to fork over the extra bucks and add the park hopper so I could take them back.  It was so worth it!  We grabbed separate buses at the end of the day and, while Amelia (and Dawn!) headed to dreamland, the rest of us headed to Frontierland and rode the big-kid roller coaster and a few other rides and watched the night-time parade.  Where I had another chance meeting.  We were rushing a bit to get back to the parade route after our roller coaster ride, so the route was getting a bit crowded with people.  I noticed a spot only one row of people deep and snagged it.  I asked the family if they minded us setting up camp behind them and we began to chat.  They, like us, are a transracial family–adopted African-American daughter (also aged 8) and a biological child (also aged 5).  The mom commented on Olivia’s locs and mentioned that she was considering putting her daughter’s hair in locs.  The one thing that was holding her back was that he daughter hadn’t seen a child with locs and was not sure what kind of styles she could put into her hair.  Olivia chatted with K for a while and showed her and told her about why she loves her locs and all the fun ways she styles them.  I mentioned to the mom that I am on an online hair care group for transracial families.  The group has  a few loced kiddos and tons of valuable information about all sorts of things.   She started laughing and said that she was a part of the same group!  It’s large–several hundred active members–so our names hadn’t clicked until that moment!  It was fun to talk hair for a while–and to see the kids enjoying the parade together.  Olivia, my social butterfly, gave K a hug at the end of the parade and told her to have her mom put a picture of K in locs on the group site so she could see them.  The three of us headed back to the resort, exhausted but happy.  And I was even happier because I knew Sunday was our “off day” and we could sleep in!

 

The Happiest Place on Earth…except when it’s not*…part 1

*Alternate Title:  Vacation is taking every meltdown trigger known to humankind, throwing it all in one big pot (or small hotel room), and letting it stew for days upon days

taken while waiting to be seated for a character lunch

We are back from the “Happiest Place on Earth”.  Truly, for the most part, we had a really wonderful time.  It definitely had its moments, though.  This was our first big vacation being outnumbered.  We have taken several weekend trips with all three kids, but never something on this scale.  Oh, and most of those weekend trips involved meeting up with friends or travelling with friends, which translates to more hands on deck.  I am seriously considering making our family vacations include extended family (well, friends–actually vacationing with my family might send me right over the edge) from now until the kids are all MUCH more independent.  🙂

Wednesday, the 17th:

We got to the airport in plenty of time and appeared to be breezing through security…until the very brusque TSA Agent asked me if the backpack we were using as a diaper bag belonged to me.  Uh-oh.  He proceeded to pull me to the side and search the bag.  I always keep our sunscreen in the outer pocket of the bag and had forgotten to transfer it to our checked luggage.  Because it was larger than the allowed 3 oz and not in my quart sized bag, he had to toss it.  😦

We were on a full flight and they couldn’t assign us seats in the same row, but it all worked out.  Dawn sat with the big kids and I sat with Amelia a few rows up.  Everyone was happy and the flight was uneventful.

We used Disney’s Magical Express, which is wonderful.  They collect your checked baggage and deliver it to your room within a few hours of the flight arrival.  Lovely.  We’ve done this twice before and it was always in our room by the time the Disney charter bus dropped us off at our resort.  Not so this time, however.  It was well within the time frame they give you, so we decided to go ahead and grab dinner at our resort.  The plan was that I would take Amelia back to the room, nurse her, and put her to bed.  Dawn and the big kids would take a stroll around the resort and check out the scenery before returning to the room to get ready for bed themselves.  Except there was no luggage (or pack and play) in the room when I returned with Amelia.  I called housekeeping for the pack and play.  I called the luggage department to ask about our bags.  They pulled up our information on the computer and had no record of our two bags.  Shit.  They initiated a lost luggage claim, which triggers all the resorts in our vicinity to check for our bags.  They also suggested I call the airline to see if the bags were indeed claimed.  Well, I called the airline and got a voicemail for baggage claim, stating their hours were M-F 8am-4pm.  Yeah, helpful.  Apparently, you’re only allowed to lose luggage during normal business hours.  I was not happy…and beginning to panic a little.  Texted Dawn the scoop, changed Amelia (at least we packed the kids jammies in their carry-on bags), and nursed her.  The pack and play was delivered during this time, so at least she was able to get to sleep.  About an hour after my initial call to the hotel baggage department, I called again to see if they had any news.  While I was waiting to be transferred to the proper person, a knock came at my door.  BAGGAGE!!   Apparently, the bags were mistakenly delivered to a different resort site by mistake.  I was so flippin’ glad I wasn’t going to have to deal with the airline the next day while at Magic Kingdom.  And speaking of…

Thursday:  Magic Kingdom

We slept in a bit since we were up later than anticipated the night before.   Because we didn’t have park hopper passes allowing us to move from park to park in the same day and since Magic Kingdom has so much to do, I would normally have considered switching to another park with less to do for the day.   We had reservations for a character lunch, however, so we just dealt with it.  As you can see in the picture above, the day was just gorgeous.  We had so much fun.  We headed to Fantasyland first and did several of the rides the whole family could enjoy.  Amelia tends to be my tentative child, so I was really curious how she’d do on rides.  Turns out, she loves them…once she’s halfway through! 🙂  I was sure that Olivia, in all of her 8-year old maturity, would complain about having to ride the “tame” rides.  Not so, though. Perhaps it helped that we gave her the “job” of being the ride tour guide for Amelia, explaining and comforting her.  Worked like a charm!  Owen just kept insisting that he remembered every single part from when he was here before–when he was 14 months old!  He even remembered all the details from a few rides we never got to when we were here last!  We had a late lunch/early dinner reservation to meet the Winnie The Pooh characters, so we headed on over there and got to watch bits of the parade from the steps until our table was ready.  Dawn’s favorite character is Eeyore…and he was just getting to our table as we sat down.  Great for her!  Not so great for Amelia.  She really needed more time to settle into a new setting before a large, furry, donkey came to visit.  The waiter explained to us AFTER we got photos and an autograph (Olivia’s quest for the trip was to collect character autographs) that the characters work through the restaurant in a continuous circle and that Eeyore would be around again in about an hour.  I think Amelia would have enjoyed lunch more if we had known that.  The poor thing was pretty traumatized.  By the end of lunch, she would point to a character when it was a few tables away, but that’s about it.  When he came to our table, she’d sit in Dawn’s lap and mostly hide her face.  😦  It ended up raining on and off for the next couple of hours after our meal.  Eventually, a hardy storm rolled in and stayed.  We were happy to wait it out in our rain gear, but it just never went away.  The nighttime lights parade we planned to see was cancelled.  The roller coaster (Owen’s first big-kid roller coaster!!) was shut down due to lightning.  We ended up riding the Haunted Mansion three times because it’s inside and doesn’t close for lightening.  We also saw a little animated bear show that the kids thought was cute.  Amelia was MAD when it was over–mostly because she was nursing during the show and I needed to stop long enough to leave the theater and find a new place to sit.  Much to our surprise, we learned there would still be fireworks.  I decided to take Amelia back to the hotel for bed.  Dawn stayed with Olivia and Owen.  They reported that it was really fun.  Apparently, they project photos of park guests taken throughout the day onto the castle.  The kids were sure we would be up there, but alas we were not.

Coming Soon:  Part 2–Friday’s Epcot Disaster and Saturday’s Chance Meeting at Hollywood Studios

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