Welcome to the latest eandesmom pre-trip report! This is a eandesmom, and gang, plus the kitchen sink edition! I am starting this PTR a little bit closer to the trip than I might have liked because well, time got away from me. The good news about that is it means the trip isnt all that far away. The bad is well I cant think of anything bad about it! First up, the BFP. The BFP. For those of you who know me, I always have a BFP. A BIG FAT PLAN. This trip is a little bigger and fatter than usual! Who: Eandesmom and gang (ok, part of the gang). Aka: Me (Cynthia), DH (Jeff), DS 14 (Evan), DS 13 (Eric). The big kids Kendall (17) and Taylor (21) will be staying home. More on all of that, and intros, later. My sister Melissa, her boys Quin (15) and Kolby (13) My sister Kerri and her DH Eric (who Im either going to have to call Donald..as in the duck since he went to Oregon) or Big Eric) as to not to confuse him with my son Eric. My parents Tom and Kathi. When: December 29 January 7th Where: A 2 bedroom boardwalk view villa at Disneys Boardwalk Villas for me and my gang, plus Melissa and her boys 12/29-1/5 and a Treehouse Villa 1/4-1/7. Two rooms at the Swan for my sister Kerri, her DH and my parents (12/29-1/5 and 1/6 respectively). What: Disneyworld and DUM DUMDUM! A trip (or two) to the Dark Side. Why: Because it's been far too long and life is too short. It is really as simple as that. However, I will give you the cliff notes version which will give you a glimpse at some of our players in years past. My family has always been a Disney family. I first went to Disneyland when I was 10, with my dad and his then girlfriend Kathi. You can read about it here. Disney, and that then girlfriend aka my mom gave me something Id never had before and touched a place that I am not sure still to this day I can verbalize well. Luckily my entire family feels the same, each with their own different special reason. In 2001 we went as a family to the Land and well, my husband at the time, the boys biological father, went out of his way to ruin the trip for everyone and keep me away from my family. They had a great trip. Me, not so much. Evan loved it, I think he hugged every character in Disneyland, the then brand new California Adventure and Universal. In fact, the bigger boys in general had a great time, this is Evan and Quin (and Conor, who is off in Italy for a year as an exchange student the rat!) Eric wasnt so sure My dad had a blast! Then again, he usually does. Fast forward three years and I am now dating Jeff. My parents wanted a do over from the 2001 trip and a bigger better version. They decided to take all of us to Disneyworld. They rented a couple of houses offsite for us all to stay at. That trip included a few extras, my other 3 siblings who cannot make this trip and 2 nephews plus a couple of other extra friends. Combined, I think there were 18-20 of us. It was kind of a test for Jeff. If he survived, then he was in. He thrived. We were married about 6 weeks later. The E's and the nephews? Still had a blast together. They always do Since then, the group has talked (and talked and talked and talked) about going back together as a group. Most have been, all to DLR and some to WDW since then but never all together with my folks just bits and pieces. My dad really wants to go back. He REALLY wants to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But work, finances, relationships, kids and the like have made coordinating such a thing far more challenging than anyone would like. My dad has had ongoing health issues. Manageable, but still, a concern. We've all had a sense of a ticking clock. We will make tentative plans when hes not doing as well, and then they get pushed out when hes better. It has never been an "if" it has been a "when". We made a plan and put dates to it. It was still somewhat of an "if" but more firm than in the past. The reality was that we had constraints. Summer was out. Too hot for my dad (well no one was thrilled with it) Fall was out. Kids are all too old to pull out of school for more than a day or two. Spring was out. Kids didn't have all the same spring break That left Christmas Break. Which had some major pros (decorations! weather) And some major cons. ($$$$$$ & crowds) With that plan, and hope in mind, at 11 months out I booked the first, then the 2nd parts of our stay. Much as I would love to be able to take everyone I just dont have enough points for enough rooms, not to mention the fact that some folks really wanted their own rooms, which is totally understandable. As it was the very beginning of my use year, even though it took banked and borrowed points, with other things planned for the future, it was relatively low risk. Fast forward to last May. A close family friend passed away. This is a man who, as the father of 11 kids, prioritized that family time above just about anything else. Specifically that family vacation time, be it hiking, camping, or on the beach in Hawaii. As we sat there, my sisters and I were all overcome with what a huge impact he'd had on our life. As kids we did countless trips with their family, combined the 2 groups could fill a group campsite and there was always room for more. My love of the outdoors, yes fostered by my parents for sure was cemented by that man. Oh how he would have loved the Koko Head Steps that Jeff and I just did last spring while we were at Aulani! Those times, those family times, those memories...are worth everything. Sometimes you just dont realize what a profound impact someone has on you as a person, as a parent, until they are gone. As we sat there and reflected one of his daughters got up to speak to share a story. Several years back, she and her husband were debating whether to take a family trip or not. They really couldn't afford it and thought they should save their money. Her dad told her to go. The bills would still be there. That time, those moments, wouldn't. He didn't mean she should be irresponsible (and nor was this a family in danger of that mind you) but he did mean that there are things far more valuable than money in the bank. They had lost one of her sisters, suddenly, at 21. You just dont know. They took that trip. One of the best vacations they'd ever had. As my sisters and I walked out of church and back to my parents (who were staying longer) we looked at each other and went... We're going to Disneyworld. And that, was that. The rest is just details. Up next, Intro's.