Well! First of all, I have to take issue with the comment my DAD left on my previous post.
For the record: I have no trouble whatsoever keeping big secrets, things that people confide in me. I also have no trouble keeping a surprise from the person the surprise is meant for. NO PROBLEM.
I simply get really, really excited about a good surprise, and yes, I like to share. It's one of my more endearing qualities. Ahem.
I wanted to share some of the thought process that went into the planning of this trip.
1) I have felt pretty firmly that, for me, I never want to take a child who needs a stroller or a diaper bag to Disney World. People do it all the time, but it just doesn't look fun to me. We figured at age five Harper would be old enough to really enjoy it (and to deal with waiting in line a bit, and some of the less pleasant aspects) and young enough to find the entire thing incredibly magical.
2) When Matt and I went two Septembers ago, he declared he would never come back during the summer when Florida is too hot and too crowded. We're not delusional, we know we won't be the only people there, but going during an off-peak time was key for us.
3) Harper is young enough that I don't feel too badly about pulling her out of school for vacation. Normally I am totally against that, but we aren't going to do this every year and missing a week of preschool is not the same as missing a week of grade school.
4) We have access to a nice, but very inexpensive, place to stay for the week. Because of Harper's peanut allergy we feel it is essential for us to have a kitchen to cook in when we're away from home for so long. We can't assume we'll be able to find safe places to eat (although Disney has a reputation for being excellent about food allergies), especially outside the parks. I feel a little guilty about taking what is a pretty extravagant vacation when economic times are so difficult. Our hotel/condo situation makes me feel a little less guilty. And we'll eat at least one meal a day from our kitchen, further reducing the costs.
5) We are DRIVING - I'm too nervous to fly with Harper - and I think Harper is old enough to deal w/ being in the car that long. (About 13 hours, we think, but we plan to break it up.)
6) Another good thing about Harper's current age for Disney-going is that she really doesn't need a nap. No daylight hours wasted!
7) Michael is going to spend 95% of the time we're gone at my parents' house in Wisconsin. They are SO EXCITED to get to spend the time with him and I don't think he'll miss us much. He is still young enough that he's pretty content as long as someone is feeding him.
8) We're going to be gone from a Friday to the following Sunday, so we'll be missing Michael like crazy, but not enough to wish we were dragging him around Disney.
9) We do plan on doing the same thing for Michael when he turns five. And we'll probably go during an off-peak time again, and we'll probably leave Harper back in school She'll be old enough to remember that she did the same thing. This, of course, is subject to change.
10) One more reason this comes at a good time - we feel like Harper's been kind of struggling lately with all the attention Michael gets and feeling a little left out. Part of me says, "Well, that's life." But I'm really pleased to be able to offer her this special time with us that is just going to be about what she wants to do.
I have no idea how she'll react to the surprise on Saturday - Matt and I both think that the reality of what she's going to get to do won't really sink in right away. It'll be interesting.
If anyone has been to Disney lately, or been there with a five-year-old, we're open to any suggestions you'd like to share!