Disney 2017

Disney was so much fun with the kids at the ages they are. It was also so exhausting, probably for everyone, but still so worth it. The boys are getting bigger and can go on more rides and Coco loved the rides and loved the characters and princesses even more.

We took a chance and Dave got tickets to the Magic Kingdom holiday even for the evening we arrived. We left SFO at 9am and got to the Disney hotel around 6. We dropped off our bags, and headed to the park. Unfortunately, even from the Wilderness Lodge which is supposedly one of the closest to Magic Kingdom, it still took forever to get there between just missing the boat, then having to make multiple stops, etc. Kind of a pain, but we probably spend 3.5 hours there that night and felt like we covered a lot of ground, so it was worth it. George and I were able to ride Space Mountain with no wait (hopefully next year William will be tall enough!) and the boys rode some rides with Dave while I took C on Dumbo and It's a Small World (again, no wait!). Dave made us reservations at the Dessert Buffet with great seats to see the firework show. It was a nice break to sit down and have something to eat and drink. We went on a few more rides and everyone was surprisingly doing well but at 11:20, we knew we had to start heading back. We got stuck with the parade coming through so had to backtrack quite a bit to get out and the boys weren't doing great at that point, poor Dave had to carry them but C dozed in the stroller and thankfully, transferred fine. It was such a fun atmosphere, everyone is so festive with matching themed pajamas or shirts, holiday lights hanging from their necks.

Space Mountain!
Mine Train
Mine Train

Friday we headed to Animal Kingdom. I think the hardest part is that the kids were tired from being up late, didn't sleep in too late and are off in general with the time different, not to mention just off our normal schedule. They did okay but there was definitely a fair amount of attitude and tantrums from everyone. I didn't do a great job packing food for the day and all our meal reservations were booked later expecting that we would be on SF time/had woken up later, which didn't happen. We still had fun, the safari is always good and Animal Kingdom is great because it has a fun playground area and dig/sand pit so it's a good way to get energy out beyond walking between the rides and shows. The boys also loved getting their faces painted. For the first time, we got the photo pass which was such a good motivated to get more photos taken throughout the different parks. The magic bands were so great too that you could charge to the bands, get into the room, etc., just with the band. Oh, and all ride photos were automatically added too!

We really liked the Wildness Lodge, food was good enough, the room was great since we had a little kitchen area and living space and then two separate bedrooms, plus the hallway was big enough to have Colette's crib out there. We swam each afternoon after quiet time and the pool was lots of fun with a waterslide the boys could go on, several hot tubs and a kids area with a smaller water slide and play structure. Surprisingly, it was warm enough to swim each night! It was our best weather in Orlando yet. I think one day was maybe 67 or so, but each day got a bit warmer up to maybe 74 so it really was the perfect weather.

Lincoln Logs to play with while waiting for dinner

After a 30 min wait for dinner, C grabbed her bib, placement and fork set and begged for food!

We headed to Epcot on Saturday and Dave planned everything out great again. We had some issues with attitudes again but it was nice that Colette napped during our lunch so at least that was somewhat peaceful. It was fun to go on the new Frozen ride too.

This year we changed it up and went to Magic Kingdom on our last day which ended up taking forever to get to yet again which was a bummer, but once we were there, we had a lot of fun. Colette was wearing a Cinderella dress Jessica had given her for Christmas and loved meeting her Fairy Godmother. We always do the lunch with the Princesses in the castle and I don't think I've seen her have bigger smiles in photos than in some of these. So fun to see! The boys loved going on Splash Mountain with Dave -- they weren't scared at all! We took advantage of the swap since Colette couldn't go on some of the rides and the boys got to ride back to back, once with me and once with Dave. There were definitely longer lines so we didn't get to go on much that we didn't have a FastPass for but Dave did a great job getting all the best rides.

We love our dress!

First time for all three on Splash Mountain!

 Loving It's a Small World

We sort of blew it at the end as we promised G we could go on Dumbo but didn't have a FastPass and by the time we waited to go on it, it took close to an hour and we weren't heading out of the park until almost 5. My mom was landing in Ft. Meyers at 6:30 so we were definitely behind schedule but thankfully the 3-hour drive was our best yet (we've had some really bad ones previously!) and everyone slept (C even transferred from the stroller to the carseat and slept for a while longer!!) and we eventually gave iPads for the last bit.

Disney is such a whirlwind for everyone -- so much energy and excitement but also a lot of walking and waiting. Dave spends hours and hours planning it and it shows -- all the restaurant reservations make such a difference for us to be able to sit down for a bit and actually eat versus waiting in a long line for food and trying to find somewhere to sit. Having FastPasses for the best rides save so much time. I'm so glad he enjoys it as much as he does because I don't think I could convince him to go along for the ride otherwise. Since they'll be in kindergarten next year, we're not sure if we'll be doing our same timing and be able to fit in a Disney trip but I hope we can continue the tradition.

Christmas 2017

Although Christmas was just yesterday, we celebrated at home in San Francisco more than two weeks ago, so in a way, Christmas felt 'over' to us a while ago. We love coming to Florida at Christmas and having Christmas be such a small part of that time away and we feel that it's easier to take the focus off material gifts when we're away for the big day, but it does feel like a mad dash from Thanksgiving to our Christmas which usually falls around the 11th or so. This year, even with Thanksgiving on the early side, it still felt like a lot to cram in, and all stuff I wanted to do. It's always a busy time of year anyway, and with all the kindergarten applications due the first two weeks of December, it was busier than normal.

This is the first year the boys were really in to Christmas, William in particular had a long list being made in November, basically wanting to add everything he saw or heard about to his list. George had one Melissa and Doug horse carrier that he saw at the book store and threw a huge fit when I wouldn't buy it for him back in October (I had to carry him out of the store!) and true to form, he kept that as his number one item. With the boys being a bit bigger this year, and especially with William getting so into the gifts side of Christmas, I felt like I had to overcompensate and I was constantly bringing up how it's a good time to help others, brainstormed ideas on things we could do, etc. George was very into this and every day he would tell me different ideas of how we could help people -- 'Mom, maybe we could leave a chair outside our house so a person by the streetlights could have a place to sit down'. There were several projects we put in action, George taking the lead, but William at least participating.

First, the kids decorated lunch bags and then we filled them with new socks, deodorant, a toothbrush/toothpaste pack, healthy snack and several pieces of fruit. The boys went out with Jessica one night to look at lights in the neighborhood and handed several bags out. One was offered to a man who often is in front of the grocery store working on his art. He was so touched and let each of the boys pick a picture to take home -- William picked one of a wolf of course! We also took the bags downtown when we went to see Santa and unfortunately the options of people to hand out to there are endless. We even were able to hand one out the window to a man asking for money at a stoplight which makes me think I should keep some of these bags with non-perishable stuff in my car at all times. I would never stop to give money, but handing a bag of some basic necessities is such a great way to practice what we're preaching to the boys.

The other project that was a lot of fun and George was so into was decorated and stocking a box of drinks and snacks for our delivery workers. We put it out the Saturday after Thanksgiving up until the day we left -- we did most of our shopping for Christmas on Black Friday so we had tons of boxes coming. We got some really nice notes from the delivery works and George loved checking it every day and restocking whatever was needed.

I look forward to when the boys are a little older and we can be even more hands on with volunteering.

The Saturday before we left for Florida we didn't have anything planned so we decided that Friday night would be our Christmas Eve and did the full celebration the next day. The boys were really excited and it was a really nice morning. They opened things, played with them, then went on to the next, but really the lego structures too up most of the day. Poor Coco was left to entertain herself with her new toys as I helped William and Dave helped George. We stayed inside all day and the plan was to go out for an early casual dinner in the Mission and then drive around and look at Christmas lights, but G came down with a fever just as we were getting ready to leave so that didn't happen, at least not that night.

Despite William's long list, we narrowed down his list a bit:

  • A radio control bat mobile (from Santa)
  • Lego fireboat
  • A dragon, to go with a castle set we have
  • Boxing gloves, something Dave picked for them

  • A radio control bat mobile (only asked for this when we sat down with him and clarified that he wouldn't get one as he asked Santa for something else -- we weren't sure he got that and didn't want a big fit, so then he changed his mind and asked for this)
  • Melissa and Doug horse carrier
  • Lego police station
  • An ogre, to go with the castle set
  • Boxing gloves
We had a few gifts that they got to share, either from us or from family members who asked -- dominos, more magna tiles, Osmo coding kits, a board game. Honestly, we felt like we did much better versus last year when we were actually home for Christmas. But we had tried to settle on 3 presents each but then there's something else Dave or I had been thinking about, or you don't factor in gifts from other people and it still turns out to be too much. William was set on that bat mobile even though it was vintage and Dave knew it wasn't going to work well (he had to buy them off eBay) but William was set on it. They didn't work well so they'll be donated when we get home.

It was fun putting together a list for Colette this year as I really had a feel for what she would enjoy. She got (either from us or others) a 'my first' doll house, bristle blocks, magiclip dolls, a vet kit, a magna doodle and a toy vacuum. She really loved everything!

Stockings were fun at this age as there are so many other small things that I knew they'd like. Colette got new hair bows, a wallet with old gift cards to pull out, play keys and sticker books for the plane. The boys got new electric toothbrushes, fun socks, boogie board drawing boards and a few other knights or other castle accessories.

We celebrated the German tradition of St. Nicholas just a week before and they had fun pulling similar items (mini lego sets were the biggest hit!) and candies out of their shoes.

Despite the limited time we had, we were able to cross many things off our list -- the boys and I went out to dinner and drove around to see Christmas lights, including the famous Tom and Jerry house, I took them ice skating, I took the three kids to our annual tradition of lunch at Sears Fine Food, then rode the glass elevators and visited Santa. This year the boys and I went to see a kids Nutcracker performance too. George started getting a little squirmy around 45 minutes in (show was 50 minutes) so this was a success in my book and William loved it of course. The Dickens Fair was also a fun addition this year. Partly due to the kindergarten process, but also because it sounded fun, we attended the school's Holiday event which included decorating these amazing gingerbread houses.

Glass elevator

While the presents part of our Christmas was over, it was so fun to be at Disney during the holidays. I guess I noticed it more this year, partly because we went to one of their nighttime holiday events, but it did feel so fun to be there at that time of year. Our Christmas in Naples was low-key. In the past, we've tried to go to a nice outdoor Christmas Eve service but we knew C wouldn't do well and since the kids are pretty much on local time, the timing wouldn't have helped anything so we just passed. We had a seafood feast and were planning on driving up to North Naples to see a neighborhood lights display but William wasn't having a good evening so we decided not to go. We woke up on Christmas morning (after C had been up from 10:30-1am) and the boys opened their magna tiles and Lion King masks and we had a nice breakfast. We said goodbye to my mom and then spent the rest of the day at the pool. Despite short naps, we had a nice afternoon and had an early ham dinner, then headed up to see the lights display which was actually so great. A whole neighborhood of maybe 10 streets, each street with a different holiday theme. It was so much fun.

I always love the holidays and it's so much fun with the boys getting a little bit older.

Presents from the boys from preschool :)