The holidays have come and gone and now it is time to get back to the real world, whatever that is. The Parks Family had a great vacation to Disneyland. It is our definitely our “happy place”. Laura and I always try to think up new and exciting places to take the family, but inevitably Disneyland is our favorite place to go with the kids. This year was the best yet, as the kids are much easier to travel with.
Gone are the days of strollers and diaper bags. No more backpacks filled with a day’s supply of the essentials. We have it down to a science. We used to joke that there is a reason that you can always find a “deal” on Disneyland tickets where you buy three day passes and they give you the fourth day free. Nobody wants to go for four days.
Now that the kids are 14 and 16, it is all much easier. We get the same hotel room every time we go. It is a Kids Suite at the Hyatt. It has a king size bed and a set of bunk beds. The best feature is that it has a door between them. No matter how much we love each other, that door is key to a relaxing vacation.
The Hyatt is about 5 minutes from the parks and offers a shuttle, so we can come and go as we please. We no longer must force ourselves to stay for 12 hours a day to get the most out of our tickets. Mid-day nap time is awesome and keeps things relatively stress free. We were fortunate that while there was no serious weather, it did sprinkle from time to time and that kept the crowds down a bit.
Being a good dad, I wanted to make sure the kids didn’t get too wet. We like our snacks, so I headed over to Target to get both snacks and some umbrellas. As luck would have it, no umbrellas, but I did find these handy ponchos for them! Laura has always griped that I should know the kids sizes, but I can’t figure out why. The ponchos said one size fits all!
One thing that doesn’t change with age is that our daughter is every bit a teenage girl and appearance, while not everything, is way up on the priority list. So it was a little dicey when I suggested that she wear the NYE Top Hat to help fend off the rain. She had just settled on the perfectly bedazzled Mickey ears and they were an integral part of her ensemble. Luck for her, Mama had purchased Wallet Ninjas for Jackson and I for Christmas. You don’t have one??? 18 tools cut into a piece of metal the size of a credit card! Somehow, Jackson’s made it through security and we were able to modify said top hat
to accommodate the ears!
As many of you know I am recently sober. Vacation will test that commitment like nothing else. Never mind that in the past it was basically “permission” to drink at odd times of the day. And there is nothing that used to make me crave a cocktail like being constantly bumped along a cattle chute for 90 minutes by little Timmy who is testing out his new light saber on anything within a 4-foot radius while his Mommy and Daddy are mentally transporting themselves to a beach resort for adults only.
I also found a huge side benefit to my recent sobriety. Don’t get me wrong, all the tools I have to deal with the world are great. The thoughts of slamming on my brakes so that the guy tailgating me in bumper to bumper traffic will be forced to stop so I can properly explain to him the error of his ways are at least now fleeting. And I can promise you that I absolutely wore out the Serenity Prayer over the past week. Then we went out to dinner the first night.
Swear to God, I thought there must have been a mistake. The four of us had a nice meal at a decent restaurant, and it was time to pay the check. I looked at the total with what I’m sure was the face of someone who just found a $100 bill on the floor and knew it wasn’t his. It was probably half of what a normal bill for the four of us used to be. When the four of us went out to dinner on vacation I could count on the total being $150-200. It just was. So when I looked down and saw $78.50, I looked around for answers. It was 8:30pm so it wasn’t the Early Bird Special. Gray hair aside, I’m a few years away from the waitress assuming I get the AARP discount. And nobody is putting Jackson on the Kids Eat Free plan anytime soon.
Turns out that Club Soda is free! Who knew??? All that peace and serenity is great, but basically our food and beverage expenses were cut in half. It turns out that I was really expensive to take anywhere! Jokes aside, it was a great trip with a lot of laughs and a ton of much needed family time. “Ol Walt really knew the true meaning of the phrase “Kids of all ages”!