Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Santa visits redeemed! ...or how I failed Diella for 3 years straight!

A couple of posts back, I shared our family's 24 Days of Christmas tradition. When we had Diella, Raf and I knew that we wanted to be a tradition-based family. We wanted to ensure that we were enriching our lives together while creating lasting memories for our children. We created many traditions that we have been very good at carrying out, and some we have done away with because they didn't suit our needs. But some times I dropped the ball on traditions. One such time-honored tradition that I really slacked on was going to visit Santa.
Every year, my friends post funny or adorable pictures of their kids with Santa, and I'd think "I need to get Diella to visit the ole guy." Truthfully, I didn't take Diella to see Santa at the Mall/store/anywhere until she was 3 years old. I don't know what happened! It just seemed that every year, we were busy with other things, and seeing Saint Nick sort of fell by the wayside. But as parental guilt does, it began to weigh on me that I hadn't yet taken Diella to visit Santa.
All was not lost, however, because we sure have made up for the lost time of those past 3 years. She has seen a Santa 5 times this year already- from the Polar Express to Rawhide, she's been following that jolly soul around like crazy. Each time she's seen him, she's asked for a different gift-- I can't decide if she's forgetful or resourceful ;-)
This year is Enzo's first Christmas, so we were all excited to get pictures with Santa. I was curious to see if he would cry when left with Santa like so many babies do. And since we missed out on Diella's baby/Santa experience, I was a little nervous to see how E's visit would go. But he was so excited. There were no tears involved, but he was mean-mugging Santa for a little while. We were finally able to warm him up through cooing at him and playing peek-a-boo. And I think Santa's beard of plenty also helped introduce a little mystery into the situation such that E opened up to him a little more.
I'm so grateful for family traditions, and for having the chance to share sweet moments with my family. I love this wonderful season, and have been taking advantage of this uncharacteristically cold spell (for the desert, anyway) to snuggle my babies a little closer and kiss them a little more tenderly. I hope you're finding small ways to enjoy the season, cuddle your family, and starting or upholding a tradition that you love!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fort Wildnerness cabins, a budget friendly-but still luxury- option.

Wait, does that headline even make sense? It really did in my head...

In October, our family spent a week at the Disney World Resort. It's crazy how fast the "on property" hotel rooms fill up... We booked our vacation 6 months prior to our trip, and hotel rooms at our first choice, Animal Kingdom, were already booked completely.

So after much deliberation, we decided to stay in a cabin at Fort Wilderness. Going this route was the perfect choice for our family because we were able to make meals in their full service kitchen. We also had a living room that was on the other end of the cabin from the bedroom so we parent-folk could unwind and reflect on the day while the kids slept. I really enjoyed having the freedom to make meals, with food that we ordered from an online grocer, Garden Grocer. It was so seamless using their service as the food was delivered to our room and put away for us when we checked in. Having a kitchen also allowed me to control our budget for the trip and ensure that we were eating healthy.

The resort grounds were also really awesome because there were many activities that our family could enjoy together. We enjoyed a campfire sing along, a s'more roasting session, an outdoor movie, a poolside dance party, pony rides, bike rides and a canoe trip around the resort. 

The resort grounds are huge! The resort is located on over 750 acres of cypress and pine forest. Many people rent golf carts to get around the property quickly- something we will definitely do on our next stay there. However, the resort also provides free bus transportation around the grounds, which makes life easier. But with the busses travelling less frequently at night, it can tend to take a very long time to get back to your room.

If you plan to have an extended stay at Walt Disney World, I would recommend staying in a room that has a kitchen. I'm obviously partial to the Fort Wilderness resort cabins, but the Polynesian Resort also has villas that offer in room kitchens.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The 24 Days of Christmas

For the past few years, our family has wanted to find small ways to celebrate the Christmas season and take an opportunity to spend time with each other. I decided that a fun way to do this was to institute the 24 days of Christmas. 

Each day, we participate in a family bonding activity, which I try to keep Christmas, or winter-related. Sometimes it's just a fun thing that we like to do as a family.

This year, I included a scriptural journey about Jesus' birth and life in our Christmas activities. So each day has a scripture entry included on its activity card. I've included a printable that I used this year. Our family is really enjoying the integration of scripture with our daily bonding opportunity! It's the perfect opportunity for us to be reminded of the reason for the season. We also have a special Christmas treat each day. Because, well, food. Last year's Christmas activity countdown/ pseudo "advent calendar" looked like this: 

Ok, ok I was a little psycho excited last year, so we made it 30 days of Christmas instead. It was a lofty undertaking while I was very pregnant. And since we have a very active toddler this year, it's back to 24 days & sanity we go!

I thought it would be fun to share this year's list with you all! I hope you enjoy it, Internets!

I hope you are taking time to enjoy this beautiful season! Even small breaks to enjoy the peace it brings are worth it!



P.S. If you're wondering what the flour game is, read more here!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Pre-Thanksgiving North Pole Excursion

Two weekends ago, our family went to Northern Arizona to ride the Polar Express, a tradition that we really love! The blessed event takes place in Williams, Arizona, which is about 30 minutes outside of Flagstaff. 

If you've ever read the book or seen the movie The Polar Express, then you can imagine how magical an experience this is for kids. Our family dresses in our jammies to ride the train. Most families do this as well, some are even cute enough to be in matching jammies-- something we haven't done, and I don't know that we will, I like that our individual jammies express our individual personalities :). 

The train cars are so adorable. Inside, they're decorated with lights, garland, wreaths and presents adorn the luggage racks. The seats are convertible, so your whole party can turn to face each other, an option that I found particularly quaint. 

The train offers three departure times: 3:30 p, 5:30p and 7:30p. We always try to get the latest departure so that we have time to fuel up at the dinner buffet prior to our North Pole adventure. The train takes off from the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, and it's all-in-all about an hour long ride.

The trip starts off with the car attendants serving cookies and hot cocoa to each guest. They even dance around (as cautiously as possible with the steamy hot cocoa) like the attendants in the movie. Following their snack distribution, the conductor comes around and stamps each person's ticket.

After all of the snacks and ticket stamping, the car attendants begin the story of The Polar Express. Once the story's complete, we arrive at the North Pole, where the kids get to see Santa's Workshop and wave to Santa and one of his elves from the train. We even pass by an Elvish village, where the train comes to a stop. Santa boards the train there, and goes through each train car giving every kid their own bell. If the kid can hear their bell ring then that means they still believe in Santa! 

On the way back, the whole train car participates in singing Christmas carols (my favorite part), with the car attendants leading the singing and dancing around. We had a particularly enthusiastic attendant this year, and it just made the trip so much more special. Diella and I sang so loud together that my voice was horse all night. 

We just love going to the Polar Express train ride each year. It's such a fun and special way to ring in the Holiday season. We went a little earlier than usual this year, November 13th, because we were going to be up north for a friend's wedding, so we sort of rang in the season super early. We just love this tradition and this year, there was even snow on the ground when we went there, which made the train ride even more special for our family. 

Reservations for The Polar Express (their peak times, that is) go really fast, like reserve-a-year-in-advance fast. It's an experience that you and your kids will really enjoy. Our family highly recommends it!

With Love,


Thursday, November 19, 2015

A New Start? Yes, please.

Wooo weeee! It's been nearly 5 years since I've visited this Blogger page. Life and time have flown by like crazy. During my absence, I have graduated from school, had a baby boy, and become a full-time mama. Life is sure a whirlwind sometimes, I tell ya.

Now that I have time to dedicate to my creative endeavors (when I'm not running after my toddling boy!!), I would like to share my crazy life experience with the Blogosphere as I struggle, as humbly as I can, through this thing called "motherhood." 

In pursuance of my new start, I'm excitedly brainstorming how to redefine my blog. This includes how to present myself on the Internets, and how to create a community around myself. Stay-at-Home mommy-hood can often be a very seclusive thing, so I'm trying to break out of that nonsense! No thanks on that. I want to connect with other like-minded mommies, and share our experiences. 

So join me on this fun journey, shall you?

With Love,