That second time we surprised them & went to Disney.

Last year we surprised the ladies. We took them to the airport and didn't tell them where they were going. They literally didn't know until we arrived.

We took them to Disneyland.

(I wrote about it here. And here. And here. And here. Hey - I was excited. It was their first time.)

The ladies in 2014 (left) and 2015 (right) Note that Lila is wearing the same pants and skirt. Um, she's grown.

We took them because we needed some happy.

At that time last year my Mom had died about 5 months prior and quite frankly, we just needed The Happiest Place on Earth. And it delivered. It was magical. Vivi just turned 3 and Lila was 4.5 and all the things were amazing.

So, in that vein, we put our money on trying another surprise, because sometimes lightening strikes twice, right?

Vivi turned 4 at the end of January and Lila is four months shy of turning 6. [gasp. Ohmygosh. I just typed that.] so our window of completely unexpected surprises and magic and logistical fog is now.

The surprise began on Sunday morning a week or so ago. We told them that we would be going on an airplane ride later that day. They didn't think much of it. Of course they wondered if it was Disney...

They asked where we were going, specifically; we said to see Uncle Bill. (Uncle "Beel" as Vivi calls him, is Craig's best friend since they were 8 or so.)

Uncle Bill lives in SoCal - very close to Disneyland.

We arrived Sunday night, had dinner wit Uncle Bill and woke up Monday morning and they played outside making bouquets for Uncle Beel/Bill.

They had no idea they were about a 40-minute drive from Disneyland. (TRAFFIC. HOW DO CALIFORNIANS DEAL WITH THE TRAFFIC? I CAN'T EVEN.)

So, we went shopping. Returned to Uncle Bill's and hung out.

(Lila picked up those glasses from Clarie's. She's pretty into them.)

(Vivi's saltwater sandals are making me want a pair of my own.)

It was soon time to depart for Disney's Grand Californian hotel.

This one, teenage angst (???), was totally perky. Can't you tell? That's her pleased face.

They asked where we were going, we said they'd know when they got there.

Did they figure it out when we got there?

Nope. Still nothing.

When the Bellman grabbed our luggage and we walked into the lobby of the hotel, the same lobby we were at just a year ago, they finally got it.

Big smiles.
Like, GINORMOUS smiles.

Happiness ensued.

If you can't see the youtube video, go here.

(I may or may not have cried.)

They were so happy.


So, we got settled and off we headed to Downtown Disney. (Our park hopper passes started the next day.)

I made everyone sit to take this picture and I can't tell you how much I love it.

These peeps are my loves.

We reluctantly ate dinner at the very mediocre, overly priced Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney. (EW.)

The girls love it, though.

This next set of pics makes me smile. Lila kept tickling Craig and vice versa.

I've noticed that when we take vacations to places other than Ohio, we're all a lot less stressed and more easy going. No expectations. Just us. Just time. It's great.

I wish I could freeze this feeling.

Then there's the calmer of the bunch: Exhausted me (eek) and Vivi. (It's good to post pics like this so that one can really appreciate when one does put a little bit of effort in.)


We started off the next morning bright and early with a $350 million breakfast (who decides these prices?) at Goofy's Kitchen. Character dining is always fun and these two were pumped, autograph books in tow.

Note: I totally didn't bring my big camera; so all of these are iPhone pics. But, whatever. They'll do.

Another note: Before we even got out of BED that morning, Vivi's eyes popped open and she declared, "This is the best day ever."

We hadn't even done anything yet.

My babies.

I'm going to spare you the rest of the character dining pics (and most of the character pics) -- they're all on my flickr page. You can see them here.)


After the copious amounts of delicious, overpriced food, we walked over to Disneyland and ran into this guy.

(I may have cried a little again.)

After that, we had to see: the princesses. We saw Snow White and some others and all was right with their world.


Sweet Lila gazing into the wishing well outside of the castle.

Requisite carousel rides. (It's anyone's guess if any of these 3 are actually looking at the camera.)

After the calm carousel we decided Lila was naturally ready for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. (Oy. What were we thinking?)

The Pirates ride is dark and windy and gun-shotty and probably not the wisest parenting decision. Especially for sensitive souls who don't like to watch movies wherein villains are included.

I'd like to say that Lila didn't scream and convulse with fear, but she did. There were tears and crying. Like tons. Like eyebrows raised and exchanging glances that communicate, "Um, did we just do something super bad to our kid?"

And then afterwards, she wasn't amused. (Sorry for the watermark over her face, but I think you can still see the effects of the ride on her pysche, below.)

We're hoping they're not permanent.

(And yes, we realize that Lila is borderline too big for the strollers but seriously, that's a lot of walking and I like to move it, move it.)

I did get her to smile, though.

This is after swearing that she'd NEVER have to ride that ride again...

And I believe I also may have apologized profusely and may have thrown in face painting as the next activity.

Note: Vivi was totally fine with the Pirates ride. 

Because, she's Vivi.

"I was a little afraid in the beginning. But I was fine. It was fine."

So face painting happened.

They were both pumped and I can't help but notice how strangely different that butterfly on Lila's face makes her look.

It's amazing what face paint can do.

(Note: Lila still wants to be a face painter when she grows up.)


Here we are in line for the Dumbo ride.

And thanks to measles (who says that?), the line waits were significantly shorter than last year at this time. I'm talking 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, repeat. Normally we're looking at 20-45 minutes, sometimes as much as 90. Last year the wait to see Anna and Elsa was like 4.5 hours. (You think I'm kidding. We told the girls that Anna and Elsa must be visiting Arendale becuase they weren't at Disney that day. Would you have waited in that line?)

And for the record, our kids are fully vaccinated against measles and I made Craig get his blood drawn with me so that we could check our measles titers. That's how I roll: thorough.

So the Dumbo ride is a crowd (family) favorite.

Then it was parade/treat time.

My favorite part! We sit, we eat, we people watch.


Speaking of perfection: Pretzel rod, covered in carmel, chocolate and mini M&M's.

I close my eyes and dream of this. That and Wetzels Pretzels.

Parades through the eyes of kiddos = awesome.

There are "Ooooohs!" and "Ahhhhhs!"
It's the absolute best.

Please note that when I was taking this picture the girl next to me, who I quite enjoyed, was like, "Girl, you need a selfie stick" and them boom, got hers out.

She was awesome.

Note: there were more than a few selfie sticks spotted in and around the Happiest Place on Earth. So strange.

Those curls.

Again, I will save you from seeing copious amounts of character photos, but this one I had to share because you're getting 3 princesses in one shot.


The ladies have participated for the second year in a row in the spinning of the teacups ride with... their Daddy.

(Mommy will barf.)

(Ask them.)

(That's exactly what they'll tell you.)

As I stood there watching people get out of the cups after their turns, I'd be willing to venture that a solid 75% of them hated it.
They were green.

Moving on.


See this picture?
See that man who agreed to wear a Mickey shirt?
The one who is smiling at his daughters?

He's all mine ladies.
He's so the best.


I love them.

I love him again. Priceless.


We did the new and improved It's a Small World ride about 3 times. (No line.) The girls LOVED it. It was closed last year so imagine their DELIGHT when they got to experience the throngs of creepy dolls stiffly moving to your favorite catchy tune and mine.

Truthfully, though - the dolls were far improved from the ones I remembered from my childhood.

This ride was more Lila's speed: friendly, well-lit, happy singing. I love her.

Like last year, we stayed on property at the Grand Californian and at night in the Club room they have story time - the girls LOVE IT.

Mama loves the wine.


Day Numero Dos was California Adventure. The parks are essentially connected by a neutral ticket-booth/entrance area that is adjacent to both the hotel and Downtown Disney. All within walking distance.

We used our "magic hour" to get into the park one hour early so we could kick, scream, push and rush to the Frozen attractions.

Kidding - Anna, Elsa and Olaf were our first priority, but you'd be surprised by how organized the whole thing was.

Here we are waiting to see Elsa &Anna. I think we waited for maybe 15 minutes. Inside. In an air conditioned auditorium room with HUGE displays that kept the girls busy.

It was perfect.

And then BOOM. This happened.

After we met the ladies, we headed over to Olaf's world and the girls got to play in REAL snow while they waited to meet Olaf. (We even got to sled.)

Look at that little weirdo.

I almost convinced Vivi to get this hat.

Finally, it was our time.

Olaf was great.  So silly. The girls were laughing and laughing... especially when he wouldn't get Craig leave without hugging him.

(Olaf has good taste.)


Super cute.

How do you top Olaf? I mean, how do you follow that? With BUZZ, of course.

Vivi was all decked out in her Buzz t-shirt, Buzz clippie and with her Buzz pin on her lanyard and her Buzz light up thing on her crocs. I think she was the only girl in this line.

It was great, Lila waited with her, but then when it was time to actually greet Buzz, Lila was like, "Yeah. Not interested. But I'm happy for you, Vivi."

More face painting.

(Hey - I'd face paint every day if I could.)

Sweetie pies.

Time for another parade.

May it be noted that it was this parade that inspired Lila to add "parade person" to her list of things she'd like to be when she grows up. She'd like to wear "costumes" and perform.

I think that's great. :)

This is probably my favorite pic of the whole trip.

We were sitting on the curb waiting for the parade to start and they were laughing and talking and touching and snickering and chatting. (They do this all the time.) It was just awesome. This is who they are right now.



YAY! The parade!

YAY! Beer!

Their first roller coaster ride together. And when I say "roller coaster" I mean this is essentially a car ride driven by a speed conscious 95-year-old man. I think it went 3 miles per hour and the hill was a speed bump. But still, they're cute, no?

(I can't believe I didn't take my big camera.)

More spinny rides. (Daddy and Vivi. She's in there somewhere.)

And then night came. Sweet angel. They're all sweet angels. When they're sleeping.

The third and final day!

Cutie pies in line to drive the cars.

I'm too lazy to rotate this, but how cute?

We did so well this year with not over-buying STUFF. Last year, not so much. This year, we let them buy a few very small things. Lila bought Merida's purse and an Elsa sweatshirt. See below.

Vivi bought a Sofia the First amulet of Avalor, an Olaf pin and an Olaf stuffed animal.

And then we were done. :) We'd had enough.

We rode more rides in two days than we did in four days last year.
We enjoyed our 3 days in the park, but we reached our Disney max.

It was so fun.

(Photo by Lila.)

Photo by Vivi.

We survived.

It was a great vacation.

Ah, memory making with these two ladies who were giggling and laughing and singing as we walked back to our hotel room.

All smiles.

A great vacation.

(Vivi vomited in the car not 20 minutes after this picture was taken. Car sickness. Should have given her that children's dramamine earlier. When will I learn?)

Vivi, with a clean shirt. Lila looking particularly exhausted.

When they both fall asleep on your lap like this, you know it was a good time.

(Or you gave them too much of that dramamine...)

Seriously, though.

Heart = full.

It was full the whole time.

I'm so thankful.


To view the rest of the pics, click here.



  1. Oh my gosh, Kylee...I love EVERYTHING about this post!!!

    It brought tears to my eyes. THOSE SMILES...on all four of you!

    Perfection. I am SO glad you had this trip. You NEED this family time. This is where the memories are.


    It really looks like the perfect vacation. YAY!!!

    So happy you and your family had this time together to treasure.

    1. Aw, thank you dear friend. It was really, really good.

      hashtag blessed.

  2. This is spectacular and I am totally going to need your input for this summer. Two days or three? When are the parades? How do we meet princesses? And superheroes? Or whatever... I love that final black and white photo. That is sisterhood. xoxo

  3. Yay! Love the pics. Their smiles say everything. Good stuff, vida feliz.

  4. DID NOT want this post to ever end! so many things to love! i particularly love that unco rocked a mickey shirt. awesome. so glad your heart is full, you deserve that, always.. xoxox! sal

  5. DOLLS! The sisterhood stuff....I can't even....


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