On Motherhood, Fasting & Waiting

It’s been a while since I’ve written a real post. You know… one that isn’t a list of things I’m “currently into”… As most of you know, I was working full-time at a skilled nursing facility all summer, while trying to mother a not-sleeping 18-month-old toddler who is also constantly testing his limits. It’s been exhausting and I haven’t had the mental capacity to write about anything real. But now I do 🙂 Let motherhood update commence.

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irst of all, can someone explain to me how my baby now looks like this? He’s a little man now! So handsome. My heart can’t take it.

On looking for work & mothering:

Well, I’m back to being at home full-time with my son. But this time I will be simultaneously studying for my board exam and looking for a job (which may as well be a full-time job in and of itself). I am realizing more and more how much I love being home with Josh and have decided that I don’t think I can work more than 30 hours a week (MAX). I love too many other things. I love being involved at church. I love reading. I love going to mommy groups and hanging out with my boy. I consider motherhood a ministry and one that I really don’t want to take lightly. So as great as it would be to make a full-time salary, I would really rather not.

So for the next month or two you’ll mostly find me running around with Josh, studying for my board exam and getting to know other mommies.

On Fasting:

Some of you know, many of you don’t: I will be fasting most forms of media until September. This includes Facebook, instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TV & movies (if you see my blog link posted on FB, my husband did it for me). Obviously I’ve decided to keep blogging, as I find it’s more therapeutic for me than it is distracting and mind-numbing.

But why am I fasting media? Well… a lot of reasons. It started with this book I’m reading (“7: an experimental mutiny against excess”) and I’ve become obscenely aware of how much of the noise in my life distracts me from the things that really matter to me: my time with God. my time with my family. my time with my son. I’ve come to realize how superficial everything has become. How superficial I’ve become. And I don’t like that… I don’t like looking back at my day and realizing how much time I’ve spent mindlessly searching the internet, looking at YouTube videos and stalking everyone’s Facebook. I’m ready for a media detox. It’s only been 6 days and it’s been both harder and easier than I expected. Harder because I LOVEEEEEEE my shows. I just want to watch Mindy Kaling all day and laugh. Easier because I don’t miss social media that much… I may even delete my Facebook when the fasts over… but we’ll see.

On Waiting:

This is an interesting transition in my life. Waiting to work… waiting to make money… waiting for “our lives to resume” (or so that’s what it feels like). I am eager to just move forward and get everything in place, but at the same time, I love where we are right now. And I am constantly learning to stay mindful of the present. Life almost always feels like it’s in a transition phase. For once, I’m going to embrace now.

A few tid-bits you need to know:

  • I started “Something Borrowed” (the book that was on my Fall reading list) and instantly quit. I got to page 30 and couldn’t really handle all the adultery (sorry for ruining the book for you, but that’s the whole premise and it starts within the first 3 pages). I’m okay with putting down a book if I know I won’t like AND it will make me crazy. Just thought I would let you all know.
  • Speaking of books, “7: an experimental mutiny against excess” is messing me up. In such good way. Go read it.
  • Disneyland won major points yesterday. My son had a huge accident in his diaper that went all over his onesie and bottoms (something that actually hasn’t happened since he was less than a year old). One of the ladies who was working at the baby center gave us a slip that let us buy $40 worth of baby pajamas at the Disneystore. WHATTTTTTTTT? Major points, Disney.
  • I finished my “capsule wardrobe” timeline (3 months) and loved it. I’m probably going to keep going (although I threw some of my old clothes back in the closet). I did say I was going to write a post on how it went. Hopefully I’ll get to that soon. Just know, I really liked it.

That’s all for now! Guess that turned into another “list” type post… oh well 🙂 off to mommying! Here’s another snapshot of Josh, just because 🙂

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11 Things I Learned about the Kwok Family & Disneyland

1. We’re constantly talking about the Christmas version.
Because is there anything like Disneyland at Christmas time? I don’t think so. (that castle though…)

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2. I am somewhat concerned my child won’t love Disney like I do.
Our first time meeting Mickey was… anti-climactic. Maybe even a tad scary. Needless to say, I was the most excited out of the Kwok’s.

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3. The thing that always (and I mean, always) makes me cry.
At the very end of the Christmas time Fireworks show at Disneyland, all the lights in mainstream come on, slow Christmas music begins to play and SNOW FALLS OUT OF THE SKY. And when you look around, ALL of the families are hugging and saying “I love you” and getting emotional. And all the kids are FLIPPING out with joy. Every single time, I cry.

4. We like to match when we go.
Well… they do 🙂 Nick made me change Josh’s pants AND shoes so they could match.

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5. That clam chowder bread bowl though…
It hits the spot. Every time.

6. We all love my minnie ears.
I know Nick does because he always points out when I don’t have them. “Aw, no, you forgot your minnie ears!” And Josh always stares at them. or tries to eat them. The minnie ears are really fun and worth it if you have a pass.

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7. When Nick and I go without Josh, we literally run through the park.
Seriously, we do. We need to catch every single ride that we can’t go on when Josh is with this. So we just race from one ride to the next. We always laugh when we get to our next destination wondering what everyone’s thinking about the crazy couple.

8. My favorite part of the fireworks show.
Is very specific. Next time you’re watching it look out for this: towards the end when the sky is all lit up and the fireworks are going crazy, instead of watching the show, turn around and look at everyone’s faces in the crowd. People are BEAMING with HUGE smiles. Children are awe-struck. It’s a marvelous site to see.

9. We are ‘World of Color’ Pro’s
Once they remove the ropes, we literally run to get the “perfect” spot. We bring dinner and games to kill time while we wait. Oh and we bring an umbrella for the wet zone.

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10. It’s our ‘go-to’ whenever we can’t think of what else to do.
A birthday? An anniversary? A random Friday? Let’s go to Disneyland!

11. When people ask me what I’ll miss about L.A. if/when we leave, it’s one of the first things I think of.
Of course not the first thing I say.

Happy Things

Today felt like a “Happy Things” post kind of day. I have a crazy week coming up and may need a tiny break from thinking about the hard things to think about the happy things 🙂

1. Tea Party at Minnie’s House
I discovered this for the first time at Disneyland (it’s in Toon Town) and I thought it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I think all I really want is to have a tea party at Minnie’s house (this is literally what this is supposed to be). Maybe for my next birthday.

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2. Urth Cafe & Pretty Latte’s
The cutest little breakfast place I’ve ever seen and also the tastiest red tea latte I’ve ever had (nay, the only red tea latte i’ve ever had). This place made me so joyful for several reasons. It was delicious (my breakfast tasted like Italy). It was beautiful (a quaint little spot in Beverly Hills). And I can definitely do my reading there.

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3. Cooking shows
I grew up watching these so maybe that’s why it brings me such joy. Nick’s been watching a lot of Gordon Ramsay videos AND we can’t get enough of master chef junior (cutest show ever, by the way).

4. My coffee place
You know when you finally find a coffee place that you love? One that is super close to where you live, has great service and has a beautiful view when you look outside? Yup. I found mine 🙂

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5. Foggy mornings
Like today. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

6. Family Time
We had a ton of family visit us this month and it made me unbelievably grateful for ours. There’s nothing quite like being  with family.

Everything I Love Right Now (April 2015)

Reading:
  • The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
    I am blown away by how captivating and well written this YA novel is. I’m sure some of you are surprised that I’m reading this (my husband certainly was) because it’s not my typical novel of leisure. I will admit that I highly prefer reading uplifting, happy-ending type novels (as childish as that may sound), but I had to get my hands on this, given how many good things I’ve heard AND how interested I’ve been recently by WWII. It’s set in Germany during WWII and follows a little girl growing up in the foster care system, as her mother was taken away to a concentration camp.

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Watching:
  • Shark Tank (as per usual)
  • Fresh off the Boat (as per usual)
  • The Imitation Game
    Well… another WWII themed item. You MUST see this film! I was telling a friend that, as far as films about WWII go, this one is ‘ideal’ in that it’s not bloody, gory, or unbearably heart-wrenching. It’s just… really really good. It follows the story of Alan Turing… don’t know who he is? WATCH IT. (PS Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly are AMAZING.)

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Loving:
  • Comfy workout clothes (from Old Navy)
    Did I just go to the gym? Or roll out of bed? The world will never know… Old Navy has unbelievably cute and inexpensive workout clothes. And I LOVE wearing them because 1. It pushes me to exercise and 2. It’s the comfiest of all clothes.
  • Neutrogena facial sunscreen (spf 55+)
    I’ve been wearing this every. single. day. Keeps my skin clear and cancer-free (let’s hope).
  • Beignet’s (at Disneyland)
    Bought these for the first time 🙂 They are little French donuts covered in powdered sugar and pretty much the best dessert you can get at Disneyland.

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  • My Mornings
    It’s really and truly worth it to wake up a little earlier every morning, while Nick and Josh are still asleep so that I can get some ‘me’ time to pray, read and workout. I’ll lose a little sleep for it if need be.
  • My Journal
    Pretty journal makes for happy writing 🙂 PS: Moleskin journals are the best. Here’s my pink one 🙂

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Celebrating:

  • Easter
    Well… we should probably always be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. But Easter was particularly awesome this year. Our church plant launched, which we’ve been prepping for since January. And then our little family went out for sushi and boba. The best.

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  • Nick’s Birthday
    My hubs is TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD! We were blessed to celebrate with friends, cake and champagne (ALSO he LOVED my gift: Gordon Ramsay’s Cookbook.)

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  • National Occupational Therapy Month
    Did you know April is National OT Month?? I have never been more excited and blessed to do what I do. Only a few more weeks until graduation! Finally time to start changing the world 😉 haha a tad over-ambitious, I know 😉
Listening to:
  • “Forever” by bethel music 

Confessions of a Mom: Things I Secretly Love

  • 7 PM
    Joshua’s current bedtime. Sometimes Nick and I will have a countdown running in our heads… true story.
  • Nap time 
    The only time I get work done during the day.
  • When Joshua’s hair sticks up in the morning (like alfalfa) 

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  • Joshua being biracial
    Isn’t it pretty cool to see so much culture seeped into one little person? I love that he is a part of two cultures that typically don’t blend (Persian and Chinese). He gets to be fully Persian, Chinese and American all at the same time. And we get to celebrate every part of who he is.
  • Joshua’s cousins being biracial
    I always wondered if he would feel left out on either the Persian end or the Asian end for not feeling fully one or the other. So I love that we have so much multi-ethnicity on both sides of the family. I guess we’re you’re modern American family 🙂
  • Disney Toys
    For mom, I MEAN Joshua. I can’t help it… I love little kid Disney stuff. Sometimes when we’re at Disneyland (which may be a little too often), I’ll go into the stores and make note of stuff I want… and then remember to mark it as a potential gift for Joshua’s birthday (woopsy). I’m half-kidding… ish.
  • When Joshua falls asleep in my arms.
    This is like winning the lottery. He never does this anymore… but on rare occasions when he does (like in a plane… or if he happens to wake up really early in the morning), it feels like I’ve died and gone to heaven.

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  • When I go over to a mom friends house and it’s messy (like mine).
    I love it when people keep their places as is when others come over. It seriously takes so much pressure off of everyone. It’s nearly impossible to keep your place spotless with a kid… you have toys EVERYWHERE. I love it when moms just let their places look as they should… well-lived in and well-loved.
  • When friends come over to play with/feed/take care of Josh.
    Thank you to all of our incredible friends for helping out with Josh. It truly feels like family.
  • When Joshua says ‘mama’.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love it when he says anything. But there’s something about ‘mama’ that melts my heart.
  • When there’s a changing station in the men’s bathroom.
    Nothing says progressive like placing a changing station in a men’s bathroom (you won’t believe how rare this is). Let’s give dads the ability to change their kids if necessary… they’re parents too.

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Everything I Love Right Now (March 2015)

What I’m Reading:

  • The Thousand Dollar Tan-line by Rob Thomas
    A mystery novel that is part of the new “Veronica Mars” series in books. This is the first installment and I have absolutely loved it so far. It’s definitely my kind of mystery. Not overly intense or violent, but certainly intriguing and a page-turner.

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  • Biblical Healing and Deliverance by Chester Kylstra & Betsy Kylstra
    Just started this book with my church and so excited to learn more about God’s power in healing people.

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What I’m Listening to:

  • (500) Days of Summer Soundtrack
    I recently re-watched the film and almost forgot about how incredible the music is. I dug up the soundtrack I bought years ago and began listening to it again.

What Brought Me Joy:

  • Pi Day
    Yay for Pi Day (March 14th!) and for celebrating anything and EVERYTHING with friends. We had a Pi potluck and will definitely be doing this again in the future. (PS I of course made the whipped cream sprinkles one on the bottom left)

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  • Bubble Baths
    Our resort in Orlando, Florida (where we went for my spring break) had a whirlpool bubble bath. I spent every day in it relaxing and reading. I need one in my future home.
  • World of Color
    Nick and I saw this again after it’s 3-month hiatus! The show is still the same, but (as usual) still worth the 2 hour wait. We always leave in awe.

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  • Matcha Green Tea Latte (at Starbucks)
    It’s amazing.

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What I’m Watching:

  • Fresh off the Boat
    My husband and I are obsessed. It’s so funny. He can relate a lot. And I LOVE that it’s set in the 90’s!
  • Lizzie McGuire
    Um… sometimes I need a break from the real world. So yes, I watch Lizzie Mcguire episodes because it makes me happy 🙂 (and yes, all the episodes are free online)
  • TED Talk: “The Price of Shame”- Monica Lewinski
    Everyone go watch this. It’s kind of like the gospel (but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post)

New Discoveries:

  • Amazon Prime Pantry
    Sort of like grocery shopping online, but better. You pay for the box (huge) and then just stuff as much as you can in it. The box is $5.99, but the stuff is generally cheaper than at the store. We got stuff like toilet paper, diapers, wipes, etc. It turns out a bit cheaper than going to Target. Have only done it once so far, so we’ll probably give it another go to see if that always holds true.

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  • Jamberry Nail Wraps
    Ok, so I actually haven’t tried it yet, but saw it on a bunch of girls and thought it was SO pretty and fun. It’s nail polish (sort of) that stays on for a long time and doesn’t chip (kind of like Shelac) except it’s way better for your nails. Want to try it with me?
    http://jamberrynails.net

Disneyworld: Animal Kingdom (in photographs)

The Kwok clan headed to Disneyworld for just one day! Of course we had to squeeze in both Animal Kingdom AND Epcot. This was our little trip to Animal Kingdom. We were only there from about 10 am- 3 pm, so it was a rather short trip, but we absolutely loved it. Here are a few things to look out for when you venture over to this beautiful green theme park!

Looking over the bridge and seeing (what surely must have been) the streets of a safari jungle on the coast of Africa….

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There were beautiful signs and tall buildings that made us feel like we were on another side of the world. This attention to detail is magnificent.

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One of the best parts of Animal Kingdom is bringing your little one… it is perfect for children. This is Nick & Josh taking a break from all that walking.

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If there is one word I would use to describe this part of Disneyworld, it’s GREEN. (or cultured.)

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We went on an animal safari, which is probably one of the best ones I’ve been on. This is no jungle cruise. We saw a giraffe and a baby elephant (just to name a few).

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Despite all the excitement, Joshua couldn’t stay awake, as per usual.(Can you blame the poor guy? We’re impeding on all his naps.)

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One more… because he’s so darn cute…

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We saw flamingo’s and crocodiles…

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And of course we had to ride “Expedition Everest”, which Nick and I both agreed is an AWESOME roller coaster. Definitely expect a few surprises in there 😉

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Shall we go to Africa or Asia?

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The “Tree of Life” is seriously AWESOME. It’s much bigger than the picture let’s on and the entire trunk is composed of animals.
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It was unfortunate we could not be there at nighttime, but we have no doubt it would have truly looked incredible with all the hanging lights and safari feel.

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One last family portrait before heading off to Epcot.

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We had an incredible time and I really wish we could have stayed longer. I don’t feel as though I got to truly experience the park… but all the more reason to come back! Also, something we enjoyed that is not pictured here is the Lion King show, which was an incredible time and filled with extraordinarily talented singers and dancers. It is fun for all ages and Joshua got very into it.

That’s all for now… Until next time, Disney world 🙂

Disneyworld: Our EPCOT trip in photographs

Nick & I spent a full day at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida! We went to Animal Kingdom and Epcot. I loved both, but could not possibly fit it into one post, so I am splitting it up into two.

I decided to start with Epcot because it is my favorite.

Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love other countries and learning different languages (I speak four (ish)!). Epcot was an ideal place for me. There weren’t that many rides, unfortunately . But there’s really really no room for complaint. I only wish we could have spent another day there.

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ere’s the well-known Epcot ball. It was ENORMOUS and reminded me (surprisingly) of the Chicago bean.

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Here’s Joshua, ready for a fun day in the sun at Epcot! (how cute is his mohawk?)

Mexico: The first place we went to; Felt so real and pristinely done. My favorite part was this replica of the Mayan Ruins. When you go inside, you feel, truly as if you are on the streets of downtown Puerto Vallarta (or any Spanish-speaking country). The coolest part, for me, was a restaurant inside the “Mayan Ruins” that felt so romantic, the San Angelo Inn Restaurant (the second picture below).

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Norway: Norway was intriguing; there was a cafe selling Norwegian coffee, which is what this section was known for. However, what stuck out to me was a sweet little museum like store that depicted all of the inspiration for “Frozen”. Little did I know that they used real life landscapes, churches & scenes from Norway landmarks in order to create the fictional town of Arendelle.

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IMG_5867Queen Else & Princess Anna

China: China was beautiful, colorful and reminded me so much of my husband’s family, who moved here from Hong Kong before he was born. I kept thinking how much they would love it.

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Germany: Germany was one of my favorites. They had bratwurst, of course, and they also sold beer steins (that were astonishingly expensive).

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Japan: I felt surprisingly peaceful in Japan. It was so unbelievably beautiful with it’s lush koi garden. (Bonus: they sold sushi & mochi here)

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France: Without question, my favorite country spot. It was breath-taking and reminded me so much of Paris (which I have not been too in 11 years). There was a stunning French restaurant, crepes, & this beautiful fountain, which Nick and I posed in front of.

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Concluding Thoughts:

Our family loved Epcot. Joshua is still too young to really enjoy it, but we love taking him anyway. We loved our time together. Thank you, Disney, for an awesome visit 🙂

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Disneyland: Why it’s the best, even with a baby!

If you know me (& my husband), you know that we are Disney crazies. Really, we are. And so you can imagine how hard it was to wait eight whole months after having a baby before we got our season passes again.

We waited… and waited…. and waited some more… Then the day finally came! We packed our diaper bag chalk full of anything we could possibly need and off we went to our beloved Disneyland.

And let me tell you… It was incredible. Even with a baby! And dare I say… it was even more fun with a baby? I know you’re thinking “that’s crazy!”… but we truly had the best time.

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For convenience sake, I’ve created a short list of tips, tricks & simple “musts” in Disneyland, some for parents of little ones and some for everyone.

Enjoy 🙂
PARENTS: what’s awesome about Disney with a baby

  • You get to go on way more rides than you’re aware of– trust me on this one… I thought for sure there were maybe 2 or 3 rides that were available to us. But boy was I wrong! First of all, there are over 20 rides in Disneyland alone that you can go on with a baby. Even our little family went on 4 rides in 3 hours (including stops to feed and nap!) So you will NOT be short of rides.
  • Enjoy the mommy room– did you know this exists? Right by the corn dogs at the end of main street there’s a beautiful mommy room, where you can nurse your baby, change your baby, heat up bottles… they even have formula, diapers, wipes, you name it! And the staff there is so sweet. Did I mention it’s air conditioned? It makes doing all the “take care of baby” stuff way more fun.
  • Take your time!- we did not realize how rushed we normally feel at Disneyland… running around trying to make it to bunch of rides. But this time we really just relaxed and took our time. You sort of have to due to the frequent stops for feeding and nap time. We absolutely loved making our trip more leisurely.
  • Ask the Disney crew to take pictures for you- this ones for anyone, but definitely for families. Nick and I always get sheepish running around, asking others to take pictures for us. But did you realize there’s a disney crew member by all the “landmarks” you would want to take a picture at? Like in front of main street? In front of sleeping beauty’s castle? Right by the characters? Even though they have their huge professional cameras, just hand them yours and they’ll take it with yours instead 🙂

And here’s a few for everyone:

  • Get that Dole Whip, y’all… my husband tried it for the first time when we went. As you can see, he got a pin that says “My first Dole Whip!” (they have a pin for everything in Disneyland…) He LOVED it. And Nick is a very tough man to please. Especially when he pays $4 for a cup of soft serve. But in the end he claimed he would definitely get it again 🙂

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  • World of Color- it’s really worth the sitting around and waiting for an hour, you guys. We watched it for maybe the 20th time last night and once again said “it’s still so good”. There were people standing near us asking, “is this really worth the standing and waiting for almost two hours??”… yes. yes, it is.
  • If you only go once a year, go in the fall/winter– is there anything more joyful and FUN than Disneyland in the fall/winter because of all the magical decor? I think not…
  • Minnie Ears– get those minnie ears, girls. I finally caved. And I’m obsessed.

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