Sunday, February 11, 2018


This week was wild.  It's fair to say that I put too much on my plate.  What I did realize is that I really do not like when all of the fun things overlap each other.  I wish I could spread out the fun.  Where were the Olympics in January when it was bitingly cold and dreary?  I could have used that influx of interest back then, instead of when we are headed off to Florida for a bit. 🤣

(Yesterday Gran Gran graciously did Violet's hair before our trip! 🙌🏻)

For now, I've been planning for CFA Next, a family trip to Disney and Valentine's Day, all at the same time. I am pleased to say that I am now winging my way to Orlando while things are all packed and ready to go at home and cookies are picked up and the laundry is done.  And so is the Lemon Fish project that got tacked on at the last minute.  🍋🐠🤷🏻‍♀️ Children are being lovingly attended to by John's parents.


As we prepare for Disney this time around, I realized how much I have learned while doing this over the years.  If you are planning to go, some of this may be interesting and/or helpful.  If not, sorry not sorry.  I love Disney.

Years ago, John took just me to Disney before we had kids, because he knew that I was excited enough that it would be worth it.  And he was right - sadly, I didn't blog that trip.  Because it was just the two of us, it was pretty easy to just show up and make things work.

Fast forward a couple of years, and we ventured to DisneyLand with the girls, grandparents and a sister during the week between Christmas and New Years.  We just showed up, not having any idea of the chaos awaiting us.  We actually encountered stand still walking traffic,  😱😩 and the wait times were incredibly long for everything.  It was beautiful to see at the holidays, but it was not that fun.

Because CFA has taken us to Orlando practically every other year, we've taken two other trips to DisneyWorld: one without kids and another with just the girls.  The trip with the girls four years ago did involve a higher level of planning, and I had a little help from a travel agent, but I started pretty late and didn't fully map out our time.  We had a great trip, but I cannot underscore how exhausted we were.

I give all of that Spenst Disney history to explain how I ended up here.  This year, I started planning way in advance (we booked last July), and I spent about a week in August in a total Disney fog mapping out "ideal" park/dining/activity scenarios.  I was the person online at 5 am 180 days out from our park check-in to ensure that I could get each dining reservation that I wanted.  There are LOTS of Disney planners out there who are free to use, but I knew that I would want to fully understand our itinerary both before and on the ground, so I planned it myself.

For about two seconds, I realized I was having so much fun planning that I considered becoming a Disney planner myself.  Then John gently reminded me that I don't love being told what to do and may not take kindly to having to respond to other people's Disney emergencies.  (Please forget you ever read this if I do decide to become a Disney planner one day. 😜)

After doing extensive research (the hallmark of this planning extravaganza), I booked us in a cabin at Disney's Fort Wilderness, because when you have four children, you cannot stay in most Disney rooms.  I quickly figured out that I would need to get two rooms at most places that I was interested in us staying, and once I discovered that the cabins would provide us with extra space and flexibility (for less $), I decided to go that direction.  I'll report back and let ya know if that was a good call. 😬🤞🏻 That main downside of Fort Wilderness is that it is a gigantic property, but that is remedied by renting our own golf cart for the week!

I heavily relied on the website Touring Plans in planning this trip.  It. is. amazing.  I paid the $10 subscription and already feel I've gotten way more than my money's worth for it.  It has crowd calendars and lots of tips, but I loved it most for it's planning options.  You can put in which park you want to visit, what times of day you want to go, what activities you want to hit, and it will spit out a plan for which order you should do everything based on where activities are in the park and how long the wait time will likely be at different times of day.  There are plans already set if you haven't been before, and you can follow those as well.  For us, I used it to craft plans based around our meal schedules and what activities I know our family will enjoy.

There is an app that accompanies it that I'll be able to use in the parks to check off rides etc after we've done them, and we can change things up as we go.  Obviously, OBVIOUSLY, things will not go according to all the plans.  I have traveled enough with my children to fully understand this.  However, I also know that we need a plan to start from, and I also fully comprehend that we will do best waiting in fewer lines and walking less in all the places that is possible.  So, I am cautiously optimistic that we'll follow the loose skeleton of the plans, at least. 😜 Again, I'll report back.

This will also surprise no one who's ever read this blog, but I also mapped out our wardrobes for each day, which I had a blast doing.  I found a lot of great, customizable, reasonably priced Disney shirts by hunting which rotates through them pretty quickly.  I also grabbed the Crown shirt from Milk and Honey Tees for the girls and I to wear one day. 👑👊🏻

As we have planned for this trip, we have tried to have realistic expectations.  As I've mentioned before, there are a few hard things going on for us, and I'm not sure how it will all go down at the most magical place on earth.  That most magical place is stimulus overload and a bit exhaustion inducing.  I'm hopeful, but also grounded in reality.  We feel as ready as we can be for this adventure.  First up, John and I hit up CFA NEXT, which is always a fantastic experience, and then, we'll be Disney bound!

(edited to add: just found out that William has a fever. will be Disney bound if we can all stay well - prayers appreciated!)