Present Place

January 25, 2024

If you have been to Disney World before, you probably have your own thoughts on what consists of “Disney magic”.  The Hinton’s have adventured there twice before, finding the magic to be enduring hordes of people, eating outrageously expensive chicken fingers, developing ride strategies that would give a NASA flight plan a run for its money, and soothing the most epic of toddler meltdowns with yet another Mickey Ice Cream bar.  This last trip, call it Disney magic if you’d like, but I think I found something even better.  Joy.  Hope.  Gratitude.

               The trip didn’t start that way.  I had told Chad a couple weeks before we left that I really like to go into a family vacation with a solid dose of dread to temper any high expectations of how things will go.  We are a volatile crew and so many times I have been left devastated by the stark difference in how things went versus how I thought things were going to go.  I was hopeful my new strategy would alleviate some of the burn when things would inevitably go awry.  Sure enough, on the flight down, Elena threw us a curveball that dashed my vision of day one before we even got there.  We pivoted our plans, Chad handling Elena, leaving me to have a good cry behind my sunglasses poolside.  I told myself, “I told you so,” and braced myself for a week of this.

               Fortunately, Elena kept the drama to a minimum for the rest of the trip, but did not hide her tween indifference to absolutely everything we tried to get her to like.  She remained tolerant but unexpressive.  However, she was a part of absolutely everything.  We were together.

               You probably don’t realize what a statement that is.  We are a divide and conquer family.  There is very little that we are all able to do, completely, as a family.  If there’s one thing Disney does right, it’s that.  Their accommodations for people with disabilities are top notch, allowing us access to everything, keeping us together, truly a rare treat for a family like ours.  We cherished every moment, the five of us, doing every part of it, together.  And that brought my Momma heart so much joy. 

               At the end of it all, instead of coming home depleted, my cup was filled.  I couldn’t help but reconcile it to how life has felt lately.  While full of shattered expectations, frustrations and things feeling completely out of control, getting just beyond that, not to a perfect place, but to a present place, can bring an entirely different perspective.  For me, it brought me the joy of togetherness and quality time with my kids.  It gave me a glimpse of hope, that moments like this that I so often grieve, are possible.  And, with Turner at that magical 48 inch mark and able ride every ride, Calvin not quite to the age where parents kill every vibe, Elena for her love of being with us no matter how miserable she is, and for Chad knowing when I need a sunglass cry, I could not be more grateful. 

  1. Linda Vice says:

    Emmalee, you do bring hope to everyone because most of us are dealing with something hard. I love your beautiful family and if you can do it, with God’s grace and perseverance. We can too. God is blessed by your testimonies. ❤️🙏

  2. Ryan Goldstein says:

    Love to read this Emm…the truth behind this message for every mother, and specifically with your challenges, is comforting and inspiring. Love you! Xoxo

  3. Rebecca Miller says:

    This gives me pause to realize that sometimes my expectations are too high and I just need to let go and let God. Thank you for your insight. It’s a privilege to see your Faith in action!
    Love and hugs!

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This is Elena. Our Light. You can see all the goodness and joy that shines from those deep blue eyes. She loves sneezes, yawns, industrial toilet flushes, automatic paper towel dispensers and The Star Spangled Banner. Music is her everything, specifically Moana, Frozen (really all Disney), Queen & Taylor Swift. Nothing makes her squeal quite like swimming, fast boat rides and her two brothers in trouble. In addition to her megawatt smile, Elena reminds us to cherish the smallest of victories, to live in the present, and to daily dwell in a posture of gratitude for every breath and every blessing.  

More About Our Story

I’m Emmalee, an ordinary gal born and raised in the Heartland. Wife to Chad, and Mom to Elena, Calvin & Turner, I spend most my days ridin’ dirty (literally so much trash) in my minivan carting kids to and fro. When I’m not being a Momager, I excel at self-care, cooking gourmet meals my kids won’t eat and deep-diving all the feelings. Most days, my attitude is gratitude, just taking life one step at a time.

Emmalee & Elena

Meet The Gals