We'd been looking forward to the week for months. We planned and packed and prepared to play. The months of waiting became weeks, the weeks became days and then it was here: vacation!
Seven days of perfectly choreographed bliss. Or maybe not.
Our trip took us on a journey to visit the world's most famous Mickey. It's one of our favorite destinations because it's a place where grown adults wear silly looking mouse ears on their heads while dining on oversized, overpriced turkey legs and no one thinks that's weird. Oh, and there are the rides and attractions.
Most vacations include a hiccup or two. Ours had several. The problems started before we ever got to the parks. We ordered brightly colored matching T-shirts to commemorate our vacation. I forgot to mention, families wearing silly matching T-shirts are also the norm at Disney. Except our T-shirts didn't arrive until the day after we left so we never got the chance to take a dorky group photo to post on Facebook. There's always next year.
We arrived at our rental home and prepped to hit the parks hard the next morning. I set my alarm for 6:30, which is much earlier than any family should ever have to wake up when on vacation. All hail the mouse.
Before bed, I went to brush my teeth and encountered a mysterious and scary situation. My pink travel toothbrush was already wet. I was vacationing with my husband, three sons, daughter and son-in-law. My daughter had her own bathroom and toothbrush. While perhaps a bit sexist, it seemed obvious that the pink toothbrush would belong to the mom. Apparently not. A wet brush doesn't lie.
I did what I usually do when confronted with a mysterious and scary situation. I quizzed the brothers. "What color is your toothbrush?" I asked.
"Pink," said one who shall not be named to save him from embarrassment. Luckily I had a spare brush. I'm a seasoned mom. A spare brush goes with the territory.
Despite my responsible alarm setting, we overslept the next morning. That's because I'd set it for p.m. instead of a.m. We scrambled to get out the door and managed to be just 15 minutes off our goal time.
"We can do this," my husband said. He's the biggest kid in the bunch.
The roads in Florida are plastered with purple signs telling you where to turn and which way to go in order to reach the park of your choice. We managed to get lost in the maze of purple signs. The boys found the correct route on their phones and blurted directions from the back seat. My husband gripped the steering wheel, the stress showing just a wee bit in his white knuckles.
After a few rights and a couple of lefts, we managed to reach our magical destination, just minutes before the park opened. We exited the vehicle and ran to the gates.
Most of us made it through the bag checkers and metal detectors without a hitch, but my husband (lucky guy that he is) got chosen for extra security screening. This caused him to scowl and delayed our entire party by at least 30 seconds.
We ran (I jogged) to the ride of choice and prepared to wait in line. It's what you do at the parks. A woman in a red dress cut through the queue in order to catch up with her party. We let her past and watched her progress. She got to a spot where all that separated her from them was a railing, which she hopped over without further ado. Her dress flew up and we all saw what none of us wanted to see. She wore a red dress - and nothing more.
After the viewing, our day was rather ho-hum, and by that I mean filled with great rides and fun-filled family times. That, and a lot of walking.
We left the magic tired, spent and fulfilled - until we realized we'd violated a primary rule of the parks. You've got to remember where you park.
To our credit, we knew which lot we were in, but not which row. Imagine seven weary park-goers walking up and down the immense expanse of asphalt looking for a nondescript crossover vehicle in a sea of nondescript crossover vehicles. By some miracle, the same son who thought his toothbrush was pink found our car, and we didn't even get lost on way back to our rental house.
I'm happy to report that after that we turned the corner on our trip hiccups. Except for the day the son with the pink toothbrush actually got the hiccups, the rest of the week was nearly flawless and for the next six days we went on to make our vacation great again.
Which is all that anyone can ask for. Especially a princess who wears mouse ears instead of a crown.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don't miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.