In Need of Joy

This morning was very sad :disappointed_relieved: as we packed DD22 into her car and she made the 464 mile southern trek to San Diego by herself for the first time. A month ago, she accepted a job in San Diego, which she was going to start after taking a 2 week break at home, after her last final. Then, the pandemic swooped down. She drove from San Diego to Irvine to pick up her brother for Spring Break 2 weeks ago. The freeways were empty (Are freeways ever empty during the day in Southern California?) and rest stops were eerie ghost towns. I had a mini getaway, eating tours, and family dinners planned for her final Spring Break. But we had to shelter in place. Instead, we had virtual dinners with both sides of the family and cooked up a storm of special occasion foods from scratch. We had such a good time making won tons, shrimp dumplings, pork and shrimp dumplings, BBQ pork buns, red bean buns, Mickey shaped rice krispy treats, and a giant chocolate cake filled with raspberry mousse.

Won Tons

Shrimp Dumplings

Pork and Shrimp Dumplings

BBQ Pork and Red Bean Buns

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Mousse

We had some of her favorite meals: loco moco, steak, beef stew, avocado toast, lots of fresh seafood including a crab boil and hot pot, and we culminated it last night with a Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings. Truly, we still have much to be thankful. She sent me this meme last night!:hugs::yum:

As the 2 week of Spring Break came to a close, she still had a job in San Diego and it is considered “essential”. :worried: Her employer gave her a choice of whether or not she wanted to start work on Monday. A week or two later will unlikely make that much of a difference right now on the pandemic curve. She is blessed to have a job waiting for her. She has to drive by herself since her brother is staying at home to do college online. And we didn’t feel it was a wise choice for any of us to drive with her and fly home. So, she backed out of the driveway with a couple of coolers of homemade food and soups, and drove off into the sunrise.:frowning_face:

I had a few teary moments. :cry::sob: There was no party :partying_face: to celebrate DD’s college graduation and first job and there will be no commencement in June. She worked hard to graduate on time or early in 2020 because she thought it was such a cool year to graduate. Tearfully, I browsed the slideshow from her high school graduation party and looked at pictures from our last family vacation, WDW December 2019. Looking at all the pictures gave me such joy in this time of launching a child into the adult work world during a worldwide pandemic. I thought I would finally do a trip report to bring some joy to some of you sheltering in place who would care to read my ramblings. It just started to rain. We need it. But it is dreary and unseasonable cold, in the 40s and 50s. We are in week 3 of sheltering in place. We were at Disney for 15 days. It may take me a bit to finish writing.


December 9, 2019

DH and I woke up at 2:45 am for our 7 am flight out of San Francisco. For weeks we had debated how we would get to the airport 30 miles away so early in the morning reliably. We would either have to drive or trouble a friend/relative on a Monday morning. For $42, we opted to rent a car, even though it can be a hassle to return and get to the terminal at a major airport like SFO. We picked up a car from Oakland International Airport on our way home from church the day before.

It was 45 degrees and dark when we left home at 4 am for SFO. By 5:30 am, we had returned the car, checked in our luggage, gone through security, and arrived at our gate. By 6:45 am, our plane, a direct flight to MCO, was pushing back from the gate! We were taking off early! Here’s DD’s bear Snow White. Snow White has gone on every family vacation since 2002.

DH and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary at WDW and we were giddy with excitement to finally return to WDW! It’s been over 7 years since our first trip to WDW and we had said we would return to WDW for our 25th wedding anniversary. It was going to be 6 days of celebration before the kids joined us on Saturday.

We landed in MCO at 2:35 pm and were greeted with 82 degrees of glorious heat! We love the shops at MCO and spent too much time adoring the stuffed animals at the Sea World Store. Fortunately, not one of these stuffed animals convinced me to bring him home!

By the time we got to our carousel, it was empty. Alaska had taken the 5 remaining suitcases off the carousel and had placed them on the floor together. 2 of those suitcases were ours! We made our way to the car rental kiosks. The whole area was rather empty. There were no lines. I went to rent a car while DH went to pick up the toll tag from the Florida Visitor Toll Pass kiosk.

We arrived in Costco in Orlando, north of WDW, at 4 pm. We couldn’t believe how cheap gas was in Florida!

We had just filled the rental that morning for $3.89/gallon!

We picked up sparkling water, coconut water, a couple of bottles of juice, a couple of cases of sport top water bottles, apples, bananas, a container of cut pineapple, lunch meat, and 4 Chicken Caesar salads from the food court. We arrived at Winn-Dixie on S Apopka Vineland, Orlando at 5 pm. We visited here in 2012 and still had a loyalty card but it wouldn’t recognize it! It is a full service grocery store unlike the Gooding’s near the Disney Springs hotels. They still had the different flavored wings in the deli that we had twice in 2012. But we didn’t get any because we wanted to enjoy some Disney food. We bought some bottles of soda and milk.

Our hotel, Hampton Inn, was just up the street and around the corner. Originally, we were going to spend all 15 nights at the DoubleTree in Disney Springs. But since we really didn’t need the Disney perks the first 6 days, we opted to stay a bit further and save 80,000 points. We unloaded the car into our hotel room before leaving to have dinner at Geyser Point QS at Wilderness Lodge. Here is Snow White with her friends Duffy and Shellie May. DD bought Duffy in 2012 at WDW and was so disappointed Duffy is no longer in the US Disney Parks. She still insisted that we bring Duffy and Shellie May to WDW

We missed the turn into Wilderness Lodge and had to loop around, finally arriving at 6:40 :rage:. We told the guard we were eating at Geyser Point. He asked for our Magic Bands but since we are not WDW guests, we didn’t have a hotel reservation. He instead asked for our driver’s license and he promptly waved us in. Wilderness Lodge is gorgeous! We wandered around admiring the Christmas decorations and the Lodge before finding our way to Geyser Point. Wilderness Lodge is our favorite WDW resort. We got in line to take our first PhotoPass picture with the Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree. It was so easy to scan our Magic Band and then the pictures would show up within the next hour in our MDE account. It was so exciting!

It was very hard to find the Lounge in the dark! We eventually found it. We ordered from the QS a Bison Burger with waffle fries and a portabella mushroom salad. Seating outside the Lounge area wasn’t plentiful and it was dark but we found something. The food proportions were small and we were just full. We really enjoyed the Bison Burger and the criss-cross fries. Burger was juicy and tasty. It tasted like beef. After licking our fingers, we wandered around looking for a place to watch the Electric Pageant. We noticed a couple of people just hanging out across from the pool watching a fenced off area. We asked them what they were looking at. They said the geyser was supposed to go off on the hour there. It was almost 8 pm. A couple minutes after 8 pm, the geyser bubbled and then shot up to varying heights for the next few minutes.

We had time to kill so we went back inside the Lodge to admire the gingerbread lodge because there were too many people surrounding it earlier.

This gingerbread house is very rustic to match the Lodge and not as detailed and ornate as other gingerbread houses at WDW.

Speaking of sugar overload…

We headed back out to Geyser Point Lounge and found some seats outside the Lounge facing the water. Soon, we heard the MK fireworks music being piped out from the Lounge and we got a very partial view of the fireworks!

After the fireworks, we sat and relaxed to wait for the Electric Pageant. It was running late. Then, we saw points of lights rushing across the water and wondered what they were. The Electric Pageant had arrived! It was a fabulous show to end a very nice arrival day.


Safe travels to DD in her new job. May she be safe and happy. Such great pictures. WL is a beautiful resort.


I :heart: you so much @stlouie. I can’t wait to read this. Prayers for you and your daughter. :heart:


I hope your daughter has a safe trip and loves her first job. Congrats to her on graduating and finding this job!

Your food looks delicious and chocolate/raspberry is just torture!

I left WL the morning of the 9th. Your pictures brought me great joy, and tears.

Thank you.


Can I have the recipe?


I can’t imagine the mix of emotions for you right now. Congrats to your daughter and to you for your positive spirit! Excellent report so far!


Wow! Thank you for your support and kind wishes. DD arrived safely in San Diego late afternoon yesterday in under 8 hours, with 4 breaks. Traffic was nonexistent.

However, she arrived back to an empty apartment. :confused: All 4 of her roommates have returned home to shelter in place. So, it was a rude homecoming. We had FaceTime yoga last night with her.


Aww… Later today. Gotta start service soon.

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I know it would be lonely to not have roommates there, but right now it is safer (in terms of Covid-19 risk) to be alone instead of having 4 roommates. If they each have jobs or leave the apartment for other reasons, that is additional exposure.



It is just lonely. She left her apartment 2 weeks ago with laughter, activity, and companionship. She had 2 weeks of family time. Now, she’s in an empty apartment. She is thankful for video chat platforms to see and hear others.


I was working on a chocolatey and moist chocolate cake and it was disappointing, to say the least. But we ate lots of so so cake in the process! My niece baked us chocolate cake that was moist but lacked chocolate flavor. But I fixed it with the additional of espresso powder! Now, this chocolate cake is chocolately and moist! I want some now…

Send us some virtually! Enjoy!


Thank you.
Your format is so dignified!


I stole it from a friend. I get confused easily. She gave me a recipe in this format. It was brilliant. It keeps me focused and organized.


December 10, 2019

Amazingly, we were not that jet lag this first morning despite the time zone difference. We woke up around 8:30 am, which is 5:30 am PST. Come to think of it, we woke up yesterday morning at 5:30 am EST. Today was MVMCP #1! :heart_eyes: The hotel provided free breakfast. I thought we would indulge in a malted Mickey waffle to start off our Disney adventures.

We were off to Disney Springs by 10 am! :hugs: When we drove pass Hotel Plaza Blvd, I thought it looked familiar and felt like we should have turned. But Google Maps told us to get on HWY 4, pass DS, and loop back around to the Lime Garage. :thinking: Really? When did WDW build 3 humongous parking garages? In 2012, it was all surface parking at DS. We parked on the first floor of the Lime Garage and had to take the escalator upstairs to get out to DS. Wow! DS is huge, completely redone, and what a vibe! First, we went to Guest Services to make sure our tickets were prioritized. We had two days of MVMCP tickets and a 7-day park ticket. We wanted to make sure our MVMCP tickets came first. We wandered around gawking at the Christmas decorations, reminisced about places we remembered from 2012, and finally made our way to the Christmas Tree Trail.

The themed trees for different characters were very cool. I’m envious of Disney’s Christmas decorating budget! My favorite tree was the WDW tree at the beginning of the Trail followed by the Toy Story Tree. We always love the Days of Christmas store but used all our will power to steer clear. DH and I can lose the shirts off of our backs in that store! :moneybag::money_mouth_face:

We bought the alien in the teacup ornament but the saucer broke off on the plane. I’ll need to take a little hot glue to it.

It was time for us to leave for Port Orleans for lunch. We debated driving vs. taking the boat. We drove. The guard waved us in after looking at our driver’s license. I thought I would try my hand at mobile ordering. I ordered jambalaya but couldn’t find beignets through mobile ordering. We wandered the property to check it out before heading to lunch at 12:30 pm. There were hardly any guests in Sassagoula! But I hit “I’m here” in mobile ordering and went to pick up my order. At the end of the day, it would have been faster if we had just ordered in person when we got there. We learned after this to check out the lines before mobile ordering. The jambalaya was plentiful, in terms of rice and cornbread.

We ate one of our Costco Chicken Caesar Salads, also because we have to have greens! :wink:

After lunch, we wandered around and found the Mickey shaped beignets nearby at Scat Cat Club’s Café. Again, there was no line. We inhaled 3 of those delicious beignets and vowed we would be back. :heart_eyes::yum: Sadly, we never did go back. :sob: Next trip…

We ate 2 of them before we remembered to take a picture to tempt our kids who were taking finals!

Since the Hampton didn’t charge for parking, we decided to keep the car for the week. Having a car puts us in control and gave us options. But it was cheaper to rent for a day from MCO, return it in the Disney area, and then rerent for 4 days from the Disney area than it was to rent for the 5 days from MCO and return it in the Disney area. (Does that make sense?) It does take time but we knew we would have time. So, we headed off to Enterprise Car Rental at the Wyndham at Bonnet Creek to exchange the car. But, she redid the paper work and gave us back the same car because she didn’t have any other car!

We arrived at the TTC at 2:40 pm after getting lost again! :rage: We blame Google Maps! It didn’t get us to the correct entrance. Kinda like a repeat of last night when we missed the Wilderness Lodge turn. We got directed to park close to the entrance to the monorail, in the Jafar parking lot. We stopped by the ticket booth to double check our tickets’ prioritization again. We monorailed to MK and made our way through the masses to the MVMCP lines on the far right. We were still close to the front of the pack, about 30 groups of guests before the tapstiles. It was a sold out party.

We had two nights of MVMCP, December 10th and 12th. And I had already redone our touring plans for the parties before we left home because it was scheduled to rain on December 12th. I wrote about both parties here: [Two Nights of MVMCP Very Different Experiences For First Timers].

DH and I were very, very underdressed for the Party. I had on a t-shirt with Mickeys and DH had on a Hawaiian Mickey shirt. But the party guests were decked out for Christmas! I was thankful I had at least my Christmas Mickey ears. I was very disappointed that they were completely sold out of party ornaments and had very limited sizes for the Party t-shirts. :weary: I had money I was eagered to spend and Disney didn’t have what I wanted!

Do you see Snow White on Dopey’s lap?

We ran into DB, DSIL, and the nephew 2.5 outside of MK at 12:30 AM. We knew we would overlap by a couple of days but we each had different activities planned. What were the odds of us running into each other like that unplanned? They were finished with dinner and fireworks at CG and were trying to get back to CSR with a very hyper 2.5 year old! The monorail station was packed but we got to the car by 1 am and back to our hotel by 1:20. We crashed. We immensely enjoyed ourselves at the party and looked forward to another night of MVMCP. :partying_face::smiling_face_with_three_hearts::grinning:

We LOVE, LOVE :two_hearts: the projections on the castle! They were so cool.


So surreal to send your baby off to the real world in the middle of all of this! Hugs! The report is great - fueling my hopes of hitting up MVMCP that same week this December!

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It sounds like you did everything you could to make your daughter’s break special. I’m sure she is very grateful for it all. At some point you can have the party for her graduation etc. Who knows maybe they’ll even offer some kind of graduation ceremony. Here the local public high schools are promising to redo proms and grads but I don’t know when or how.


DD is very grateful. She’s a lovely, dependable, thoughtful, and grateful daughter. I am blessed to be called her mom.

Most colleges are debating between a virtual graduation or a December graduation. It won’t be the same. And a December graduation would be iffy if COVID-19 comes back in the late fall. Some kids don’t even show up for college commencement. But in the big picture, commencement is not that important. We will celebrate, one day.

High school senior year is a whole different ball game. High school senior is a much bigger deal. It’s the end of childhood. There is Grad Night, Senior Ball, Awards’ Night, Graduation, and all the other fun activities. And how do you gather everyone back up for events past the end of the school year?


Good Morning! I just sent this picture to DD as she starts her first adult job this morning. I’m hoping it will warm her heart and bring a smile to her face as she heads out the door.

I bought DS19 this adorable Pluto from the Disney Store in Downtown Disney, Anaheim last fall when I went to visit him in Irvine. As the school quarter got tough, I wanted Pluto to bring a smile to his face, reminding him of the upcoming WDW vacation.

I bought this equally adorable Olaf during the December trip. Somehow in our household, Pluto and Olaf have become BFF.


Good luck to DD today. Hope Pluto’s smile brightens her first day.