Hi everyone, I have been in the planning stages of our family trip to disney 9/19-9/27, 2009. First, let me introduce the cast: Me - Abby, 27 years old, this is my second trip to the world. I am a former Disney Store CM, and I love all things Disney. I'm a self-admitted shopaholic. And i am a planner. DH - Josh, his second trip to the world. Not a planner, but feeds my need to plan by buying me disney books LOL. Loves Animal Kingdom and Epcot. DD - Chloe, age 7, her second trip to the world. Princess Chloe Elizabeth Grace loves Disney almost as much as Mommy. She loves the princesses and the fairies, but will tell anyone that will listen that Mickey is her favorite. This is the child that wears her tiara to the grocery store, out in the garden, basically everywhere but school (but only because they're not allowed to wear them there). DS - Kaol (pronounced Kale, DH wanted "unique spelling" - watch as I roll my eyes), who will be 14 months old when we go. Has many mickey toys, as I am trying to introduce the characters to him. Watches Mickey Mouse Clubhouse several mornings a week after sis goes to school. BFF - Mindy, age 25. Has never been to Disney. Loves Princess Aurora. And rivals me in planning. BFF 2 - Melissa, age 25, her second trip to the world (her first visit was 4 years ago). Believes she IS a Disney Princess, and very much a shopaholic (i believe she is my "enabler" LOL). This trip is unique for us for several reasons: - our DS will be going - his 1st trip to Disney! - we are taking one of my best friends - Mindy's 1st trip to Disney! - we are actually taking two friends with us, which is something I've never done on a family vacation - our friends are going to babysit the kids one night for us = Date night for me and Josh! Also, I need to back up and give you a little background about our trip. We went last year and had an AMAZING vacation. It meant so much to me to live my dream - going to Disney - and getting to share it with my DH and DD (who dreamed the same thing). It was our first visit and we were hooked (twice on the plane I was asked, "So when can we come back?" and only once from Chloe). Of course, I wanted to come back, too - but being the planner, I was afraid it would be too hard on our baby this year. So I told them we could come back in 2010. Then something happened that changed my thoughts. My baby was born on July 9, 2008. I did not have a physically difficult pregnancy, but towards the end it was getting hard. My doctor discovered a tumor but felt that removing it during pregnancy was not safe for the baby. I was 2 weeks past due when Kaol was born, but he was healthy and happy so that was really all that was important. When I went for my 6-weeks checkup, my new doctor (I opted to switch) asked how I was feeling & told him that the recovery seemed slower than with my daughter (I had emergency c-sections with both of my babies). Weeks went by and i still wasn't really feeling great. A few weeks later, he ordered a biopsy and discovered that tumors (there were 3, it turns out). I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. My son was only a few months old when I was told I had cancer. All I could think was "But I have a baby...and a little girl...and I'm only 26" I was scared and I guess I felt a little sorry for myself. I didn't tell anyone in my family for weeks, even my mom. I knew that my doctor had caught it pretty early and that this type is both treatable and cureable, but it was still a bit scary. My doctor referred me to a cancer clinic, and we decided that radiation would be the best way to treat my case. Then we chose to do a combination of radiation and chemotherapy. Treatments made me so tired, and I went from being someone on the go all the time to being at home all the time. I found it exhausting just going to the grocery store. I was not myself. One day, after a treatment, I woke up after sleeping for hours in the middle of the day. I told myself, "It's time to stop feeling sorry for yourself. You're going to get better. You just need to figure out how to be happy until you do get better." I started thinking about how lucky I have been in my life - I have two beautiful, happy, & healthy children; my Josh, who has always stood by my side; a wonderful family and friends - and how I should figure out a way to celebrate that. A few days later, I saw a commercial for Disney's new "What will you celebrate?" campaign. I smiled and thought about how much fun we'd had in Disney. Disney has always been a part of my life - I think that Disney is such a major part of many people's childhood. I talked to my doctor about going on a vacation in the fall of 09. He said he was "cautiously optimistic" about my being in remission by late spring 09 and that by the fall i would be okay to go on a vacation. I decided that we would go back to Disney World in the fall. I gave Josh a blanket with sorceror mickey on it for Christmas with a note attatched with a ribbon. The note just said "Mickey wants us to come back, and who am I to turn down a request from Mickey?" I think he was more excited than Chloe! We knew it would take a lot of planning especially for our son. We discussed taking a babysitter with us, and then we thought of asking a friend. I remembered the free admission on your birthday and thought of my friend Mindy, whose b-day is 9/26 (my b-day is 9/11, but i don't celebrate my bday on my actual bday since the September 11 attack on our country). I thought about how much Mindy has always wanted to go, but didn't necessarily have the means to do so. So I asked her if there was any way she could take a week off work in September. She said yes, but wondered why. I told her I wanted to take her on vacation with us. And then I told her that we'd pay for everything but her plane ticket, meal gratuities (I planned to purchase the dining plan), and souvenirs in exchange for her helping me with Kaol and babysitting the kids one night so Josh and I could go out while on our trip. She started crying and said "Yes, I want to go!" Mindy, Melissa, and I have been friends for years, and we've always done everything together. In fact, we all went to New Orleans together when Chloe was 2. We've always had so much fun together, and I couldn't imagine taking Mindy without taking Melissa. So, that's the story. I have lots of planning details to share including where we hope to eat, where we're staying, etc. to share. More to come later today!