That one time we took a quick trip to Disneyland

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A couple months ago (it wasn’t even that long ago, actually) I decided I wanted to take my three little girls to Disneyland. I didn’t want to buy four plane tickets and I don’t mind driving, so that’s what we were gonna do: drive to Disneyland. I knew if I mentioned it to my mom, she’d wanna climb aboard the Disney train so I obviously mentioned it to my mom. Yep, they were on board. So we took a Wednesday through Sunday trip to Disneyland. That lasted a day longer than expected, but whatcha gonna do?

We drove to Redding, stayed the night, then drove the next day to Disneyland, The Happiest Place on Earth.

But really. It is. I love Disneyland I think more than any place in the world because everything is just so damn magical. Yeah, it’s super expensive, but it’s so worth it. My mom and Karen might be the only people who agree with me, but I’m sticking to it.

We stayed at The Disneyland Hotel and our view was of the pool and in the distance you could see The Matterhorn and Space Mountain. I was pleased.

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I only took my camera into the park once because it’s too much pressure to get good pictures of everything, so you’ll only get a glimpse of everything we did. But I’m sure you’re fine with that.

We went on the Cars ride, Ariel, the carousel, saw the live Frozen show (dude, it’s a must-see), rode Soarin’ and saw Playhouse Disney Live. We got free face painting, met some characters, and ate at Ariel’s Grotto (meh, only worth it to see the princesses!) and Carthay Circle (yum) — all in California Adventures.

 

The weather was pretty fantastic which was pretty lucky because it was really stormy just days before we got there. But good weather = swimming, even if it’s not 80 degrees. So swimming we went.

Did you know they brought back the Main Street Electrical Parade? Oh, no? You’re dead to me.

Just kidding. But they did, they brought it back and what that means is that if one wants a front-row seat (and one does, believe me), one must start saving seats at 4:00pm. For an 8:30pm parade. Disney parades are serious business. Ask Karen.

Lots and lots of treats and bribes were purchased and consumed.

By 6:00 we were ready to go on some rides so we headed to Toon Town where we played at Goofy’s House (a really great spot if you have toddlers and need some down time) and visited Minnie and Mickey’s houses and even got to meet Mickey Mouse. Then we had ourselves a tea party and rode the tea cups. Disneyland, I love you.

And then, the parade.

We did other things in Disneyland, too. We ate so many treats, we rode Dumbo and Pinnochio, the carousel, Splash Mountain, Winnie the Pooh, Pirates, we saw lots of our Disney friends, saw fireworks, and just had a really lovely time. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I’m realllllly easy-going on vacation which is a bit of a surprise to me, actually. I go in with no expectations because otherwise I would be stressed and disappointed. So what we get to see and do is great and anything we didn’t will be saved for next time. And if I had anticipated not receiving very specific and incredible kids’ outfits in time even though it was promised (I mean, this is my life — I plan Disney outfits), Francesca being pretty awful a lot of the time, breaking down in Winnemucca and staying at a hotel that had a casino attached and eating KFC for dinner and wearing the same clothes for a day too long, I might have had second thoughts. But it all happened, and it was fine and we laughed and laughed and the kids were amazingly good, and we listened to some really good 48 hours podcasts (because why not mix a little murder in with Disney magic, huh?) and had the very best time. I might already be planning our next Disney vacation.

 

 

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Cotton Candy and the Genius Who is Ruthie

A couple months ago at Hogans (our neighborhood bar that Danny and I frequent) I told Danny that I wanted a cotton candy machine.

“I mean, imagine just, like, making our own cotton candy. And we’d make amazing flavors. And maybe I’d do it at wedding receptions or parties or something. COTTON CANDY, DAN!” Lavender cocktails make me very creative.

I even found a cotton candy cart and organic sugar floss online. Because you can get anything online.

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And then it happened. He got me a cotton candy machine. And the moment that first bite of sugar melted in my mouth, I knew I was a genius. Cotton candy was a genius idea, even if I never once sell a single cone of it.

You heard it here first:

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It’s true, and you’ll all remember this moment.

And then I’ll have to give credit to my friend Leann who had a cotton candy machine in high school and sparked my obsession. Leann is the coolest.

So if you wanna go ahead and get yourself a cotton candy machine, do it. But don’t be surprised if you can’t make it as well as me because, I’m just saying, I’m boss with a cotton candy cone.

 

And if you want organic cotton candy (did you know there was such a thing?) you know who to ask. Drop by the boulevard, I’ll spin some up for ya.

 

4.

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She was cute even before she was born.

Ollie was born on January 7th, 2013. There was snow and it was cold and she was in a hurry to come (and Danny almost didn’t make it). She was sick so we stayed in the hospital a little longer than we had liked.

Ollie is our blonde haired, blue eyed, sweet and happy little sprite. She’s as easy going as they come and she’s almost always happy. She wakes up smiling every morning (I’d know because she sneaks to sleep right between Danny and me every night) and goes to sleep happy each night. She sucks two fingers while stroking her hair across her cheek. She curls up like a kitten our laps and is a snuggle bug. She loves soda and Disneyland and asks every morning, “It is a Dawn Day or is it a nothing day?” and squeals with delight when the answer is “Dawn Day.” Her hair is just hilarious because it’s fine and thin and doesn’t grow — constant bed-head. She loves lip gloss and playing house and is always up for adventuring outside.

Today, Ollie is 4.

We’re celebrating in McCall, one of our favorite places, and she’s in birthday heaven. Cakes and cookies and friends and pizza.

Happy Birthday to our sweet Ollie Jane.

Double Digits (Jamie is 10)

Jamie turned 10 right after Christmas and with all the craziness that comes with the holidays, I haven’t gotten a chance to sit down and write about this beautiful boy.

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James is a rare bird. He is beautiful, insanely smart and intensely curious. He becomes experts at things and remembers everything he hears or reads. He’s a walking encyclopedia, this one. He loves pancakes and waffles and he’ll have a step breakfast of waffles (plain) and a real breakfast of waffles with syrup. Standard.

He reads books at a high school level or above but loves his trusty Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He’s read the Harry Potter series in its entirety over 10 times, Percy Jackson several times, every book ever written about Greek Mythology, Calvin and Hobbes, and  Garfield. He draws and does things like creates his own country complete with traditional dress of its citizens, official language and religion, a flag, exports, imports, average wages, you name it. He even wrote a national song to go with it.

He loves his sisters. (shhhh, but Jamie is definitely Francesca’s favorite). He misses a lot of social cues but tries really hard. He knows when he should say thank you and excuse me and yes please, and does a great job. He’s witty and hilarious, but in a grown-up way…a way kids don’t usually understand which makes me nervous when we’re in a group of kids…who knows what he’s going to say!

If he’s feeling overwhelmed or like things are just a bit too much, he’ll find a swing and swing for 10-15 minutes to ground himself and then he’s back. I love this about him. He wears his robe and slippers in public and the color pink doesn’t scare him one bit.

Going out of his routine isn’t comfortable for him, but he does it anyway. We are always on the go and he will always have a book with him and is usually quite content surrounded by characters he’s reading about.

We can’t imagine life without Jamie so thank goodness he’s ours.

And holy hell, he’s 10. Time flies.

Christmas Cookies: a lesson in patience

I am not patient. I am a great teacher’s helper because I can cut things out like a mofo and I’m so good at making copies. I can even sit with kids for 10 minutes at a time and I’m pretty good. But put me in charge of teaching young children to do something or facilitating arts and crafts for a mess of them and I turn into a nightmare.

“Uhhhh, just let me do that.”

“Don’t touch that. Why’d you do that?! That’s not how you’re supposed to do that. Are trees really purple? Uhhh….why don’t you go wash your hands. Also…you have snot coming out of your nose.”

So making Christmas cookies with my children was a lesson in patience and I think I’d give myself a C.

I let them decorate four cookies each and they were the burned ones.

Man, theirs were just messes.

But let’s talk about mine because mine were freaking incredible.

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Yep, I did it. I spelled out JOY. That did not define the experience of decorating Christmas cookies with my children, but Joy to the World, man.

Okay, I’m just kidding. I’m 90% kidding. Okay, I’m 60% kidding.

Making cookies with the kids was not as awful as I thought it would be, even though I would still give myself a C grade because I have got to mellow out. Next time, I’ll earn a B. But I’m giving myself extra credit and raising my grade to a C+ because of this:

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Worth it.

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Franci. Francesca. Francipants. She’s two.

Remember when she was like this?:

Now she’s like this:

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That sums her up quite nicely.

Francesca is adorable. Her plump little cheeks and her grey-blue eyes along with those perfect lips and cute little nose make up the sweetest face.

She knows what she wants and if you don’t give her what she wants, she’ll scream. She’ll throw things. She might even swipe at you, so be careful. Or, better yet, just give her what she wants. On the flip side of that, she does actually know how to take turns. She knows the world isn’t just hers and that she has to share. She might not always like it, but she usually goes along with it. She is an eater, that’s for sure. She loves to eat and she loves bites of anything you might have. She loves the water and would stay in the shower for hours if we let her. She’s fearless and climbs ladders and rocks and steps like it ain’t no thing. She sleeps in a big girl bed, but would drink out of a bottle every time if you let her. She knows what a potty is for, but just doesn’t have time for that nonsense. She is the best traveler and doesn’t mind long car rides as long as she can scream your name (usually “dadaaaaaa!”) every 10 minutes or so just to make sure you’re there. She sits and listens to books and dances when we throw impromptu dance parties. She squeals when it’s time for Dawn’s and wants to watch Emma’s snapchats every night. She dances when she hears the doorbell because she knows it’s usually “Papalala.” She’s the funniest little kitten and we are just so glad she’s ours.

We celebrated her on Wednesday and it was a small, quiet, perfect little party for our number six.

Balloons make a gathering a party and party hats are essential.

And let’s talk about the Francesca banner that my friend Juey got her when she was born. Oh….melt my heart, I love it so much.

France loved it all.

Charlotte is teaching Franci everything she knows and it’s really quite frightening.

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“Play it cool, like you don’t give a rat’s tail…then give ’em just a taste of what they want.”

For her cake, we went with store bought cupcakes and cookies and it was perfectly what she wanted. She made lots of wishes that night, and I hope she wished for books and clothes, because that’s what Mama and Daddy got her. We’ll do better next year.

Happiest of days to our sweetest Francesca. We love you to the moon and back.

Snow Magic

Danny is happiest in the snow. Starting after Thanksgiving, he’s checking snow reports for Brundage several times a day. He gets out his snowboard gear, organizes it and gets the kids ready. All of this before the temp here drops below 50. Sometimes when we’re stuck in the valley weekend after weekend, it’s necessary to find the snow.

So that’s what we do.

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The kids get bundled up and we head to the mountains. We find ourselves saying things like, “Snow just makes the whole world magical,” and totally meaning it.

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Our mission was to get a Christmas tree and not only did we complete that mission, we had time to play and sip hot chocolate and pretend that stress and anxiety and work and hard things don’t exist.

I suckered the kids into some photos, too.

 

But the Christmas tree, that’s where it’s at. Let me tell you something about our Christmas tree. It’s not full, it doesn’t have a ton of branches to hang lights and ornaments and it’s an odd shape. But it’s my favorite tree we’ve had.

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And Charlotte even found one, too.

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And what luck we had to wake up this morning to a fresh blanket of the white stuff.

Happy Snow Day!