A couple of weeks ago, amid the busy-ness that surrounded my two speaking engagements for the WPPI Road Trip (and inspired by my second speaking location… Orlando, FL), Nathan and I had the opportunity to take the kids on their first (but most certainly not last, I am truly hoping we are able to make this into some sort of annual tradition!) Disney vacation. I was so excited when WPPI asked me to speak at their Orlando stop, because it gave us the push we needed to just go ahead and schedule a trip!
The week was a bit insane… Monday, I headed down to Atlanta to spend some time and speak at the Road Trip stop there. That night, after a day full of lots of stressful-to-amber type things (lots of driving alone, speaking, talking to strangers) I tried to get everything prepared for the rest of the week. As I was throwing all kinds of random stuff into my suitcase, I was trying to make a major decision. (Don’t laugh. Yes, to me, this was major.) I was trying to decide it was possible for me to document this trip with my (and Nathan’s) iPhone… or if I was obligated to use a more appropriate tool- my “real camera.” On one hand, I felt a deep seated drive to beautifully document the kids first experience at the Magic Kingdom. What kind of photographer (and mother!) would I be if I didn’t do that? But on the other hand, I had recently photographed the family when we visited the Kentucky State Fair, and although I LOVE having those images… in some ways, walking around with camera in hand made me feel like I was merely an observer/documenter of my life, rather than a participant. (Plus, that thing is heavy… it killed my back to lug it around all day!) Nathan and I talked it over, and I was definitely leaning towards just documenting our trip with our iPhones. I posted about it on Twitter/Facebook, and was honestly expecting to get talked out of my decision. I was expecting to be taken on photographer guilt trips, mom guilt trips, and who knows what other horrible things. Instead, what I received was a ton of support. The decision was already made, but having so many of my friends share that they would make the same decision helped me to feel much better about choosing our iPhones as the documentation tool for such an epic experience. It was so amazing to be a participant in my life… and I love the images that we ended up capturing.
Ok… so now that you’ve had the “why are all of these images from your iPhone” disclaimer… on to the story :)
The logistics of the rest of the week continued to be as crazy as Monday (but ever so typical of the way we tend to do things). Allegiant Air was running direct flights from Chattanooga to Orlando for a mere $19 each way (um, crazy!) but they only fly down on Wednesdays and back on Saturdays. I was to speak in Orlando on Wednesday. We decided that I would fly down on Tuesday, chill with the WPPI gals that night (thanks for the fun dinner girls!), and prepare for my presentation on Wednesday. Nathan would spend Tuesday doing all the packing that I didn’t really get to, and finishing up all the other last minute craziness that came up (including trying to find Halloween costumes for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party!) Wednesday, I walked around all morning being nervous/excited/nervous/excited, while Nathan and the kids enjoyed their luxury (ha!) flight to Orlando. I spoke just after lunch, and as soon as I was done and able to say my goodbyes (I might have exclaimed “I’m going to Disney World!” from the stage at the end of my presentation :) ), I headed downstairs to be picked up by my family. Perfect timing, even in the midst of what seems like insane travel plans :)
Side note: My husband is the master of the iPhone self portrait. You’ll notice that there will be very few self portraits of me. I’m not terrible at self-portraiting with “the real camera” but sadly, self portraits with the iPhone tend to cut off the majority of some one (and usually the someone is me) so those images didn’t quite make the cut :)
I love this image of the rest of my family in the airport at the beginning of their journey. I was so excited to see these three faces pull up at the conference hotel.
Once I was picked up, we headed toward Walt Disney World. We had booked a room in one of the Walt Disney Resorts, and we were excited to get in, get unpacked, and do a bit of shopping and eating at Downtown Disney. Disney with kids is a blast. Everything becomes an adventure… even the simple things like checking into the hotel or riding a shuttle or finding a restaurant. After a bit of deliberation, we decided to eat at the T-Rex Cafe that night for dinner… the kids were thrilled, and surprisingly, the grownups were pretty pleased as well. I only grabbed one picture of the inside, but seriously, look how cool!
After our delicious dinosaur dining experience (oh yeah, look at me, I’m alliterating;) ), it was time for some shopping. We saw a magnet store, a build your own remote control car store, a magic store, and a sock store. We bought tshirts and socks and shorts and we looked into about a million windows. One of our final stops (and quite possibly the major highlight of Austen’s entire experience) was the Lego store.
Austen was in ridiculously good spirits after spending some quality time with an enormous Lego collection. At this point it’s probably getting close to 10:00 or maybe even later, so everyone was starting to get a bit silly :)
After playing at the Lego store for awhile, we headed to the most gigantic Disney store imaginable. Austen still didn’t have a costume for the festivities that were happening the next day, so we were on a mission to find one.
But we kinda got sidetracked by all of the cool hats ;) See what I mean about the silliness?
We finally drug ourselves away from the exciting hat collection (but not before Nathan and I purchased hats for ourselves to wear to the Halloween party the next night) and found Austen a very cool costume (more on that in the next post :)). It was just about time to head back to the hotel and get a couple of hours sleep before Day 1 at the Magic Kingdom.
And then we found ourselves sidetracked again. This time by chocolate and ice cream… and it was SO worth it.
Addison couldn’t quite finish her enormous ice cream sundae…
But Austen managed to drain his equally enormous root beer float :)
At this point, we made the long trek back to the shuttle… and then the long ride back to our hotel… and then another long trek back to our room. We fell into bed, happy and exhausted and excited about the adventures to come.
More soon :)