Illuminating Stella

November 2015 archive

A Year of Disneyland


In October we finished off a year of passholder trips to Disneyland and California Adventure. We debated renewing and even adding in a pass for John but ultimately decided (after they announced another price hike, especially for parking) to take a break. We had a lot of fun at Disneyland and will undoubtedly be missing our trips to the park in time. Stella thoroughly enjoyed meeting characters and we spent a lot of time doing just that. The Fantasy Fair Princess Meet and Greet was usually the best bet, as you waited in line but got to meet 3 Princesses back to back. I think we hit this spot almost every visit. She was so darn cute and so thrilled, every time. I know someday that kind of magic will be gone and I definitely wanted to soak up every minute.

We loved the parades, which are phenomenal. The new Paint the Night Parade is actually phenomenal plus plus. No words to describe it, I’ll just say watching your three year old take it in, your heart will explode a little bit. There are also lots of great shows in both parks, some favorites were Mickey and Magical Map, Bugs Life, Disney Junior, Aladdin and the Frozen Sing-a-Long and the classic Tiki Room. The evening shows World of Color and Fantasia are incredible. We enjoyed lots of treats, my favorites being the Matterhorn Macaroon, Dole Whip and the Lobster Roll at Harbor Galley. I read a few blogs about Disney Food and tried a handful of the must eats, which was more for fun than an actual real culinary experience. John loved the corn dogs, supposedly the best in the world. So many of the rides are just out of this world too. The parks are clean and beautiful (especially at night under millions of twinkling lights). I definitely enjoyed a few Mom’s Night Out’s and one date night with John at the parks. Being there without a toddler to enjoy some adult beverages, bigger thrill rides and not having to manage a stroller and bundle of attitude was quite a treat. Cathay Circle in California Adventure has the best cocktails and appetizers in such a beautiful atmosphere. The Baby Care Centers are amazing and incredibly thoughtful. We also enjoyed many trips with my Mom friends and Stella most loves the parks holding hands with another kid, dressed in one of her princess dresses. I hesitated letting her do that till the end of our year and kind of regret that. I thought it would slow us down, create issues getting on rides and the dress would get too thrashed (which did sort of happen). But Disney seems to kick it up a notch when your kid is dressed in costume, every where we went the “castmembers” would make a special fuss about her, which was very fun. I will also miss the holiday spirit, we got to enjoy Halloween before our pass ran out, but Christmastime at the parks is pretty great, lots of special decorations and a parade with Santa.

Things I won’t miss would be the crowds, most days there are super long lines for EVERYTHING and just walking with a stroller feels like an advanced level game of Frogger. The parking costs and big schlep in and out of the park were grueling, not to mention the occasional toddler tantrum that meant doing that long trip back to the car with a screaming kid. When I parked in Downtown Disney I tried to think of it as cardio, but sometimes by the time we got thru the front gate, after going thru security and then ticketing I had a splitting headache. I will not miss trying to corral Stella to stand in line instead of climb everywhere and touch everything in sight. I will not miss dirty looks from the people standing in front and behind us in line.  I will not miss sweating through all of that under the hot sun. I will also not miss some of the Disney super fans, especially the adults without kids (who often openly loathe kids). I have to say watching an extremely gracious Cinderella chat it up in full character for a photo op with adults just never sat right with me. Perhaps I am a grinch, but what’s going on there??? That said, those Character players are some of the most talented people, so generous and happy to make it special for each and every guest. Alrighty then, now I’ll Iphoto dump some of the best moments to balance out some of that negativity above. LOL.

This is her face watching the Paint the Night Parade, really says it all. BTW, no filter on this photo, I swear.


Riding the monorail in the front car for the first time.


Meeting Daisy Duck, she tried to copy Daisy, like it was a normal greeting. It was pretty cute.


Meeting Anna and Elsa. She was all about Anna at the time and ran in for a huge hug.


Meeting Mary Poppins and Bert. The day after we watched the movie. She was awe struck.


Meeting “Allyson Wonderland” and the Mad Hatter. She was dressed as Cinderalla and they congratulated her for not losing her shoes that day. She was totally confused, I was laughing.


Princess meet and greet with Belle. Loved the way she posed here, melts my heart.


We stopped for lunch one day in New Orleans Square, this jazz band was performing and Stella just marched up to the band and started dancing. The singer started talking and singing to Stella and just basically incorporated her into the entire number. Kept calling her “my friend Jessie the Cowgirl”. Stella of course just acted totally natural as if she’s in the band. The video is priceless.


Sleeping Beauty, the inspiration for her Halloween Costume. I think it’s really all about the pink dress because she has yet to watch the movie past the arrival of Maleficent.

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The couple times John joined us were just great. I loved watching them on the rides.


Meeting Olaf, they had a whole love fest. This was our last trip to the park and by then Stella was a total pro at the meet and greet thing. One day she might just have to get a job at Disneyland!


Dancing in the street in Carsland. Guess who is always ready for a dance party?


My pretty Princess at Minnie’s house.


So many ride ussies that we texted to John. It really was a fun year, I’ll always be grateful for!


Oktoberfest to Halloween

We started the month partying at Oktoberfest and kept on going till Halloween.  I cannot believe it’s already November. Moreover, I cannot believe it’s almost 2016. It’s been a busy month. I’ve been working lots, two full days in the office and when possible in lots of little pockets of time from home. Work email on the phone is a necessary evil and I am struggling with the boundaries I was hoping to enforce. I’m recruiting at the executive level and had to take a call from a CEO about a CFO candidate at Disneyland. Good thing he thought it was charming, but I was mortified and sweating it. He hired my candidate later that week- hooray! There is nowhere quiet in Disneyland by the way, no where. Being a stay-at-home Mom is hard, being a working Mom is hard and the great juggle of dividing up both is super tricky. I feel a bit like a failure in all areas, but also a bit like a success. Gotta admit keeping the house clean is pretty much a 100% fail. I just got a bit of a pay increase and fantasizing about sliding that cash right on over to a housekeeper. Well, a girl can dream. In between all of this, here is some of the fun we’ve been up to.

Face paint at Oktoberfest, she picked the hearts. I love seeing what she’ll pick.


Cousins gearing up for the chicken dance at Oktoberfest. Dada-Duh-Dada-Dunah!




Disneyland in her Cinderella costume and having a blast with her pal Clara.




Halloween Party with the playgroup.


Sleeping Beauty skipped her nap and then fell asleep on the way to the party. In character :)

(Thanks to Jillian Voigt Photography from our playgroup for the great picture.)


She will never pass up an opportunity to paint.



Love when you focus in on a group shot and find a happy little moment like this.


Costume Day at Ballet, Black Swan and the “Purple Fairy”.


Trunk or Treat at Preschool,with special guest Gigi.


Our pumpkins, terrible picture but John worked so hard on that Mickey Mouse Pumpkin.


The big night! Trick-or-Treat time with Cinderella and Maleficent.


Mirror, mirror on the wall….




Ready to collect the goods!