Merry Christmas

I love how much Sky looks forward to seeing Santa.

The planning starts weeks out with the search for the perfect dress. This year she shopped for it herself, and used her own money to get it. Then there are shoes, and the hair, and just a tad bit of eye shadow and lip gloss.


It’s a big deal to her, and very special. She takes her conversation with Santa very seriously! She chooses to believe in him. When she asks if he is real we tell her he’s real if she chooses to believe in him. Same thing we tell her when she asks if Disney Magic is real…only if you choose to believe in it.

Isn’t that more magical, choosing to believe in the magic and wonder of “it” all?!

We wish you magic this Christmas and into the new year!

Disneyland with a 5 Year Old


We made a “last minute” decision to go to Disneyland over Christmas. It was last minute in that we decided mid-November we were going to go, and that is last minute for us! We usually have months, and months to plan and save for our trips. But, everything fell into place, Sky is the right age to buy into the Disney Magic 110%, and Mark and I wanted to get out of town…so Disneyland it was.

On our final night we stayed for the 6:30 Color The Night Parade…amazing!

We had so much fun! Sky loved every ride she went on, she waited in line after line to meet as many characters as she could, she was all about those autographs, and we enjoyed finding the quiet, out-of-the-way places like the Beasts Museum, Pixie Hollow, and the Royal Hall. It didn’t really matter if we were going full speed, or chilling on the curb (for 2 hours) waiting for a parade, we all had a blast, and Sky handled the insane Christmas Day crowd and all the lines so well!


There is a ton of advice out there on how to do Disney and get the most out of it. Some of it worked for us, some didn’t. Here’s how we did it, and my 2 cents worth:

-Don’t worry about seeing it all…you won’t. That’s what trip #2 is for! And, your kiddo(s) don’t know what they don’t know. They have no idea if they are “missing” out on something or not.

Animators Academy…so fun and Sky loved it!

-Take time to slow down! Wait in line to meet characters, find out of the way things like the Animators Studio, The Beasts Library, Pixie Hollow, the Royal Hall. It’s all off the beaten path and gives you some less hectic time.

Meeting Elena of Avalor was extra special since that was the princess dress Sky used her own money to purchase. Elena took extra time with her to teach her how to twirl, and swish her skirt. So cute!

-Hotels…there are so many options! We went the 10 minute walk from the park route and it was fine. However, it was a lot of walking for Sky, so while we had planned on taking mid-day lunch/nap breaks back at the hotel (most of the advice out there says to do that), that didn’t happen. We quickly decided that powering through the day and heading back for dinner, and being done at that point, was the best way to go. Following the point above helped with that. When Sky was getting tired or frustrated we slowed down, found somewhere to sit for a bit and had a snack. We were in park every day from opening until 7 or 7:30. We missed some of the evening light shows/fireworks…but, she’ll be able to do that next time.

Car’s Land at night, so cool!

-Try and get a room with a microwave and a small refrigerator! This was a lifesaver. The last thing we wanted to do at the end of the day was deal with more people at a restaurant. Our first night we ordered in a ton of food and had awesome left-overs for dinner’s. We were also able to get all our breakfast foods, cold cereal, microwave oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, juice,water, and milk at 7-11. It was nice to be able to eat 2 out of 3 meals at the hotel in comfort.


-Pack all your snacks/water and take it in with you…the price on those things is silly! But, do splurge on a churro!


-Park Hopper – I have mixed feelings on this. Everyone told us to do it, so we did. We only park hopped one out of three days. Had we not had the option to do so we would have been fine. However, 3 day park hop passes come with one early entry day, and let me tell you that hour was amazing. Four rides in one hour, all rides that had crazy long lines the day before and/or couldn’t be fast passed. That last day being able to go back and forth worked out perfectly for us, and the food is less expensive on the Pier at Ca Adventure. So, I can go either way on this, it’s more pricey to park hop, if I wanted to save money I’d be ok doing single park passes for sure, but knowing we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted was nice. Like I said mixed feelings on this, and I don’t know what we’ll do next time we go.


-Fast Pass is nice if you need it. We didn’t need it day one (Christmas Eve) or three (day after Christmas), the only day we did need it was Christmas Day. You can only do one pass every 2 hours, if you have park hopper you can do a pass in each park, but that would be a ton of walking back and forth and we didn’t bother with it.


-Use the Disney App! I downloaded it as soon as the plain tickets were booked. I checked ride wait times throughout the day for weeks, and had an idea of what shows/parades there were. It helped to know the rides that had long (like 3 hour) lines, when I would see on the app that one of those rides had a wait of 45  min or less we booked it and felt lucky to get in shorter lines, and sometimes were able to get off and get right back in line!


-Christmas in Disneyland. What can I say it’s truly magical! Christmas Eve the crowds were small, and we didn’t have to wait in line long for anything. Christmas Day was a zoo, could hardly walk it was so crowded, the day after was again pretty small crowds and short waits. It’s a Small World and the Haunted Mansion are extra special during the Holidays, peppermint flavored snow on Main Street was pretty awesome, and I loved seeing all the Christmas Cheer. Even with the crowds Christmas Day I think it’s a great time to go!

Sky was super star stuck with the characters!


Oh Christmas Tree….

I know there are strong opinions out there about trees. People are either strongly in the fake tree camp, or the live tree camp. I guess we have a foot in each camp. And are lucky enough to have the space to pull off both types of tree!

Our fake, indoor tree.

Our trick…the live tree goes up outside! Seriously I have zero desire to deal with pine needles on the carpet and vacuuming every day, and frankly we don’t have a ton of room inside for a tree anyway. So, we have a 4 foot table top tree in the living room, and a 13 foot noble fir on the patio outside the living room window.

Our outdoor tree…and it snowed just a few days after we got it…so perfect! 
When it snows one must make snow angels! 


I can sit on the cough and enjoy the view of both trees, and it makes me so feel so cozy & happy!


I love the process of going out and finding our outdoor tree (man Sky was super picky about the tree and ended up picking the perfect one!), cutting it down, and then blasting the outdoor speakers with Christmas music while we decorate it!

Trying to get under there to cut our tree down!


Decoration Committee!
Decorating the garage next to the tree…she’s such a good helper! 

It makes for a fun Christmas Tree Lighting with friends as well. If you have the space outside I highly recommend and outdoor tree to add even more cheer!

View from the couch…love all the warm glow from the lights and Holiday Cheer! 


Christmas/Pittsburgh Fun

Christmas felt really long to me this year, mostly because my Dad and I started out the week in Pittsburgh at the Steelers game. Truly the trip of a lifetime!



We had so much fun, and I still can hardly believe I was sitting in one of those yellow seats, waving my terrible towel, and watching my team play on their home field. I have an even harder time believing we got to walk down on the field, stand in the players tunnel, and hug the goalpost.

Talking to “the” security girl from the goal post incident with Brown! She was so nice and funny!


Being at the game was amazing, but maybe the coolest part of the whole experience was being in Pittsburgh, being a home-team fan for a change. Being part of the black n gold crowd that was all over the place. The feeling of game day in Pittsburgh…I’ve never experienced anything like it. The fans are so calm yet excited about their team. It was a football tailgate party from about 9am to well after 11pm, and yet people were not crazy or over the top. There is a calm confidence that the Steelers will win, and if they don’t it’s ok. It’s not the end of the world, they are still the Steelers, and still the “thing” that makes Pittsburgh the city tick. It’s all Steelers, everywhere you look, and several times fans mentioned “out of respect to the Roonies we don’t do this or that”…it was all about being amazing fans, but showing and behaving with respect and dignity as well.

Felt like coming home!

Different than other football experiences I have had to say the least. I was already a proud Steelers fan, but now I’m proud of the team, the owners, and the city itself.

Tailgaters outside our hotel…11 pm…and yet they were not loud or drunk at all. Just enjoying a hard win!

After a whirlwind trip to Pittsburgh and back it was time for Christmas with the family. We had such a lovely time, so nice to be in E WA and have a white Christmas, well the day after anyway. Sky loved it and was pretty ticked at having to leave the snow, and loved ones, behind.

She walks around with that thing non-stop…wee need her to take lessons now.


I can hardly believe it’s time to get ready for 2016!

Snow in the vineyard!
Chasing me on the tractor…little punk!

Ho, Ho, Ho

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We have Christmas spirit…how about you?!

Oh Christmas tree!



My aunt and uncle give us an ornament every year, now they give Sky one as well! We get to open those early and put them on the tree!
A visit to Santa.
One of Sky’s birth grandmothers made her a very special, and truly amazing stocking of her very own. A gift full of love!