Last week, I took the kids to the Downtown Disney splash pad. It’s one of our favorite summertime places.
We went early in the morning (before 9:30) to avoid the summer Disney traffic. But since it was the week after Fourth of July, the crowds were a little slimmer. That’s actually a good insider tip for Disney. Plan your vacations the week AFTER a holiday. Most people come during the holiday week, so the lines are a lot shorter in the parks the following week.
I’m still trying to learn to use my new camera. We bought a Canon Rebel SL1, and I love it. But learning the nuances of a new camera can be tricky. I am still taking a lot of picture where the focus is screwy. Like this one…
There was a nice man with his sister and children playing there that morning, though. They were on vacation from New York, and the dad happened to own a Canon camera store! Score! He helped me get my setting right and showed me a few tricks for using this camera. (I would share them with you, but I don’t speak camera fluently. I just know things like, “Push that little black button…” Not very helpful for blogging descriptions!) After they left, I fiddled around for a while and finally started getting better with the focus.
We played at the splash pad for a while that morning. This summer has been great because the kids are getting a little older, so their attention spans are a little longer. We used to get to splash pads last summer and after about 15 minutes or so, Gracie would be bored and ready to go. This summer, they will play for just about as long as I let them.
Or until they get hungry.
I usually pack our lunches when we are out for the morning. It keeps me from having to stop and eat somewhere and it also helps us stay out playing longer because we don’t have to run home when the kids are hungry for lunch. After they ate, we loaded up in our stroller and walked around Downtown Disney.
Downtown Disney has shops to play in, so we wandered down the boardwalk window shopping. We stopped for a while in the Lego store and let the kids play in the Lego building stations. Bean has really gotten into Legos this summer. He can even build cars and buildings and stuff using the directions. He picked out a few new sets he would like to have, and we put them on our mental shopping lists for later.
We wandered back down to the other end of the boardwalk and stopped to ride the train. This was the first time Gracie has ridden it without me. She just jumped right on there with Bean, all smiles like she had done it a thousand times. Nevermind the fact that the last time we rode the train, I had to jump onboard the moving train and squish my fat butt into one of those kiddie seats mid-ride because Gracie freaked the freak out halfway through the ride… I guess she forgot that.
We also walked down and rode the carousel. For the first time, Bean chose to ride in the spinning seat all by himself. Last summer, it made him nervous to get in the little “jail seat,” as he called it. And Gracie jumped right up on a horse by herself. Her first time riding solo without me. They had a blast, and it was nice to be able to enjoy the ride with them myself.
(She looks terrified in this picture, but she really wasn’t!)
After we rode the rides, we headed back to the splash pad and played for an hour more. They have endless energy these days, and one last romp makes for a good nap time!
As the kids played, I thought about how different this summer has been than last. I’ve been much more on the sidelines this summer than ever before. Both Bean and Gracie are becoming more independent and capable, and that leaves me in this peculiar position of being a spectator more often than not. I thought this would make me sad. But I’m learning to really embrace it, actually. It is so wonderful to be able to watch the kids have fun. I get to see them experience fun adventures, make their own decisions, and try new things. I think I’m going to enjoy this next phase of parenting.