Disneyland in March

Mid February we realized Lance’s annual pass only had a few Saturdays left before they were blacked out until August. So we went every weekend until then. So much fun! It’s harder now for me to go alone with an opinionated toddler and little baby. I’m so glad we made the plunge and bought the expensive passes that include most Saturdays so we can all go together. Disneyland is definitely our happy place — we make so many fun memories as a family every time we go.

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Disneyland Tips

Lance’s cousin Nicole emailed us asking for Disneyland tips. I put together this guide, and am sure I’ll have things to add to it as the years go on 🙂

Buy them online and/or on your phone through the Disney app. This way you’ll avoid the ticket lines and you’ll get a Magic Morning (if you buy a 3-day pass).
Unless you’ll only be there one day, I wouldn’t suggest getting park hoppers. Actually, even if you only plan to go one day, I wouldn’t suggest it. There is so much to see and do in both parks and it takes too much time and energy to go back and forth between them. It’s way more fun and efficient to tackle one park per day.
If you can’t park in Pumba (it’s the best but it’s sometimes closed) park in Toy Story. Avoid Mickey and Friends. Though it’s closer to the park, the lines are craaazy.
Do whatever it takes to make it to rope drop every day. (That means parking, going through security and entering the park at least 30 minutes before the park is open. You’ll have access to Main Street but entrance to everything else will be roped off. Right at park opening, cast members will drop the ropes and you’ll be able to walk/run to the land of your choosing.)
It’s SO worth waking up early to be able to wait 5 minutes or less for almost every ride in the park! We always run to Peter Pan — it’s the only way we’ve gotten on without waiting 40-50 minutes.
Avoid going to the park on Magic Morning days if you don’t have a Magic Morning. Magic Mornings at Disneyland are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Magic Mornings at California Adventure are on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
We generally pack a lunch, so we don’t have a ton of suggestions. Nothing we’ve had is that good … other than the treats! The churros are amazing, and we love Dole Whips (only available in Adventureland).
Most restaurants offer free ice water (even if you don’t buy anything) so don’t worry about packing tons of water bottles.
Download the app:
It’s great for checking wait times, show times, fast pass distribution times, park hours and finding bathrooms, restaurant menus, characters etc.
With the app, you can choose to pay $10 extra per person to get the Disney MAX PASS, which has extra perks like getting fast passes from your phone. The MAX PASS also includes photos taken by photographers throughout the park. Only one person needs to get the MAX PASS for this benefit.
A few helpful links:
*One last thing:
The arrival section is my No. 1 tip. Most people get to the park entrance two hours after it opens — which makes the parking lots and security lines a zoo starting at about 30 minutes after park opening. Then they stay til closing to “get their money’s worth.” Buuut by evening the park is crowded and everyone is exhausted. Why not make it to rope drop and practically have the park to yourself? You’ll check off so many rides in the morning that by evening when it’s crowded if you want/need to leave early, you can!

January Wrap-up

What a month! I look back at our photos and can’t believe how much we’ve done. It feels like a blur. It’s crazy to me how at night I wake up every 2-3 hours and feel the weight of my exhaustion, but that during the day I can walk and talk like my life isn’t in shambles. Ha. That’s a blessing for sure, but how long will it last?

While Lance was on paternity leave we drove to LA to visit Griffith Park and the LA Zoo. We started at the zoo, and then didn’t make it past the park’s parking lot. We were all so tired and Lila had fallen asleep on the five minute drive between the two. Someday we’ll go back and explore — it feels like a different world over there (Orange County vs LA County).

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Lucas had several baths and I went picture crazy and took 50 photos (not kidding). Here are a few to document how small he was and how quickly he changes!

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Surprising to some, Lila and I have made it to library story time, Music Makers and MOPS almost every week since we’ve been home. I find satisfaction (and sanity) in routine, and enjoy a scheduled reason to get up, get ready and get out of the house. In some ways, having two kids isn’t all that much harder than having one. For the most part, Lucas just comes along for the ride and hangs out sleeping in his car seat most of the time. (Amazing.) It isn’t until the afternoon (when he cries and cries no matter what and Lila rarely naps) that having two kids is rough. Still, look at how sweet they are! I’m grateful they’re mine.

In late January we left the kids with a babysitter (Chris and Amanda Taulbee) so we could go to Lance’s company party for 3-4 hours. It was a casino-themed night. We still had several ready-to-go infant formula bottles from the hospital, so that was convenient. Amanda was my primary co-teacher before they moved to another area of Irvine. Though the party wasn’t super fun, it was super nice to get some alone adult time with Lance. We joked afterward though that it wasn’t worth $60 (how much we paid the sitters) to go to his work party — we should’ve gone somewhere else!

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The Christmas Countdown

*Written January 2018*

This year we were determined to not let the holidays pass us by. After Thanksgiving, Lance and I made a list of all the festive things we wanted to do this season. Per family tradition, there are no bad ideas during a brain storm, so lots of things made the list:

Go skiing and sledding and build a snowman; have a snowball fight
Go caroling
Make gingerbread houses, homemade hot chocolate and Christmas cookies; deliver treats to friends
Plank in ugly sweaters
Drive to see Christmas lights
Watch: “Ernest Saves Christmas,” “The Santa Clause,” “The Office” Christmas episodes, “Christmas with the Kranks,” “Claymation Christmas, “Charlie Brown Christmas” ” Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
Go to live nativity
Read the Christmas Story Luke ch. 2
See a movie in the theater
Go to Disneyland — Jingle Cruise, Small World, Christmas Parade etc…
Avoid sickness
Adopt a Child/ Secret Santa
Have a picnic under the Christmas tree; have a sleepover by the tree
Build a Christmas lego set
Drink eggnog; Sip on Martinellis whilist wrapping presents
Get an advent calendar
Attend Nutcracker ballet
Throw a holiday party
Donate food to a food  pantry
Hang mistletoe in bedroom 😉
Make ornaments and Christmas crafts
Reenact the Christmas Story
Have a birthday party for Jesus: Give a gift to Jesus
Make a special meal / Breakfast / Goose
Write a letter to Santa; meet Santa
Give a gift to UPS, FedEx drivers
Make a “Cookies for Santa” plate

Naturally we couldn’t do everything on the list, but we certainly tried. We assigned an activity to every night in December, as well as a few in the last of November. In the end, our month looked like this:

Last days of November: Decorated the house and tree and went to Disneyland (which is magical during Christmas!)
Dec. 1: Bought Lila Christmas jammies and a Christmas-y book
Dec. 2: Attended tree lighting at Light the Cove (Crystal Cove State Beach) and Adam and Alicia Rose’s ugly sweater party

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Dec. 3: Walked over to Irvine Civic Center’s Winter Wonderland event
Dec. 4: Dropped by the Johnson Brother’s Tree Lot (and though the trees smelled wonderful, we stayed for less than 15 minutes because it was so windy!)
Dec. 5: I went to the RS Holiday Dinner
Dec. 6: We made Christmas cookies and dipped pretzels in caramel and chocolate; met Santa at our apartment complex

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Dec. 7: Delivered Christmas goodies to friends, neighbors and ward members
Dec. 8: Went to Disneyland

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Dec. 9: Attended Ward Christmas party and drove around looking at Christmas lights in Woodbridge

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Dec. 10: Went to the Live Nativity in Rancho San Margarita and viewed the hundreds of creches
Dec. 11: Drove around looking at Christmas lights in Nellie Gail Ranch in Laguna Hills
Dec. 12: Went to Disneyland
Dec. 13: Made and decorated Christmas sugar cookies

Dec. 14: Lance went to “Star Wars” with the Elder’s Quorum
Dec. 15: Went to Disneyland

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Dec. 16: Walked around the well-decorated Irvine Regional Park in the cold
Dec. 17: Watched the Newport Boat Parade

Some days we were tired and had to push ourselves to follow the schedule, but we were determined to. And I’m glad we did! My favorite activities were decorating sugar cookies, looking at Christmas lights at Nellie Gail Ranch (we did that last year, too) and seeing the Newport Boat Parade.

Christmas is such a special time of year. It was so fun to introduce Lila to some of the traditions of the holiday, and to make new traditions ourselves. She did so well meeting Santa this year compared to last year. It helped that we met him so many times (at Disneyland, the ward party, the tree lighting at Crystal Cove and at our apartment complex). We tried to make the season about more than just Santa, though. I’m so glad we got to go to several (two) live nativities. Especially this year, I got so weepy during both. Being 8 months pregnant, with a boy, I felt a renewed appreciation for Mary and all that she went through. Now that Lucas is born, I can’t help but wonder if I felt the Spirit so strongly during those presentations because my spirit knew I was going to give birth on the Eve of the Savior’s birthday.

Christmas Card 2017

Big news: We’re expecting a baby! We’re excited to meet Baby Boy in mid January. Have a name suggestion? Send it our way — we still have no clue what to call him.

Other news: Lance continues to work as a business consultant at Gallup. He’s pretty great. The job is flexible, he enjoys the work, and it pays well so we really can’t complain. Lance enjoys mountain biking enough to regularly wake up early to ride before work. If you’re into that kind of thing, follow him on Strava where he records his miles of glory.

Keri continues to work as a freelance writer and editor. Her clients vary, as does her interest in what they want her to write about. This year she has learned a lot about drug addiction treatments, tracking mileage for your taxes, exercise ideas for seniors, and what your smartphone says about your personality. See what I mean? Keri’s weekly highlights include her spin class and scripture study class. She also enjoys meeting with her MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group bi-monthly at Voyagers Bible Church.

Lila was recently named the cutest two year old of all the two year olds. She sings more than she talks, often belting out “How Much is That Doggie in the Window” and “Be Still, My Soul.” Lila loves Mickey Mouse, her friends, shoes, Chick-fil-A, reading books, and calling her parents by their first names.

As a family we still enjoy Disneyland (really, it doesn’t get old), the beach, nightly walks, hiking and being outside. This fall we flew to Europe and spent two and a half weeks exploring Austria and the Czech Republic. We hiked in the Alps, biked along rivers, visited hilltop fortresses, wandered through ice caves and enjoyed cities both big and small. It was amazing. We flew home days before Lila’s 2-year-old birthday, so we didn’t have to buy her plane ticket, which means we’re winning at life.

This year we’ve seen miracles big and small. We are so grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ and gladly celebrate His birth, life and gift to the world. We love you and wish you happiness and health!