I'm not going to write about each picture (I don't have time), so here's a general re-cap of our Florida trip the week after Thanksgiving:
Charlotte's favorite rides included E.T. (save the alien!), the carousel (rip-roaring fun) and the flying triceratops (we hopped between Disneyworld and Universal Studios during our 5 days of park-time). Charlotte clung to Daddy's leg or hand most of the time - she was definitely his little buddy or shadow or something like that.
Eleanor - well, what can I say? We flew clear across the country and she found her favorite place at Disney's Animal Kingdom: a petting zoo. Of course. And, just to add icing to the cake, there was a caged display of exotic creatures, including (drumroll....) a giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. She was in heaven. She also LOVED the Hippogriff ride at Harry Potter's theme park.
Oliver's favorite part of the trip (this child is a FOODIE!) - an Indian restaurant that we ate at in Utah on our way home! Okay, but for the Florida part he loved the butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks and Hogs Head cafe. He decided he does not like pumpkin juice, though. He also loved all the scary rides that I refused to ride. I did join Oliver and Sam for two memorably miserable rides (Everest in Disneyworld and Dragon Challenge in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter).
Samuel was picked as the guy to get a wand testing done at Ollivander's wand shop. It was actually pretty amazing and Sam was on cloud nine. We all loved it. He, like Oliver, actually had fun on those fast, upside down feet dangling in mid-air, rides. They're crazy. They got me to do one of those rides and it wasn't really that bad, but I wouldn't consider it FUN. (I LOVED the ride through Hogwarts, though).
Sam and Oliver were ridiculously hard to get good pictures of - they kept dodging the camera or making funny faces, but I did grab of few keepers.
Jeff was the general sheep herder, keeping us on track and the little 'uns in tow, and searching out palatable and healthy foods (what a nuisance! Not a lot of good food and drink options, and the drinking fountains spewed forth the nastiest water I've ever had). He had some cool apps on his phone that told us the current wait time at different attractions, as well as the predicted crowds for the upcoming days. Thankfully, there weren't very many people in the parks anyway. So the low numbers plus the phone app plus using our child swap and fast pass options made it so that we literally walked straight on to most of the rides. Our longest wait was 20 minutes for the thrilling, extremely popular, crazy Small World ride. (Hey, it's a Disney classic so it was worth the wait, right?) :)
Jeff also made I.D. tags for the kids with their picture, written descriptions, and phone numbers on each tag. Thank you, Jeff! Although we didn't lose anyone for more than a few seconds (and it was almost always Charlotte, who would then run back to cling to Jeff's leg), it was nice to know they had at least that info on them.
I was the Great Picture Taker (of mostly NOT great pictures, but great subjects!), trying to capture memories on camera. I actually took a lot of pictures of the queues because they were empty! "This is a picture of the line that wasn't."
It was so nice not to have crowds around us and little to no wait time. Of course, Jeff and the boys also took pictures, but it seemed I was always the one saying, "Look at mom, now SMILE!". No trouble smiling - the trip was a delight. When we came home I suffered serious withdrawal. I really really really missed being with Jeff and the kids 24/7. And reality hit when the kids went back to school after having missed a week: homework ad nauseum. Poor kids. Eleanor took two days to catch up, Oliver's work took four days to catch up, and Sam's took six. And that was straight homework from the time they got home until bed (with the exception of piano lessons and scouts). But since this was the time when Jeff could get away, this was the time we went. It was worth it.
I was also the one who kept falling asleep on my feet the first day or two. I didn't sleep a wink on the flight there (I do NOT recommend red-eye flights!). The first evening I took the girls back to the hotel early and we all crashed while Jeff and the boys got in some more park time at EPCOT.
Oh, a word about the final picture. Charlotte found a little red leaf and turned it sideways on her lips. It looked so cute that each of us with a camera (Jeff, Oliver, Sam, me) took a picture.