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what we ate in disneyland

Since we generally care about what we eat and what we feed our children, I was a little concerned with what our food options would be in Disneyland.

I mean, we all know they sell delicious treats {frozen lemonade! dole whips! macaroons!} and don’t get me wrong, I could live off of such goodness. But a few real, sustaining meals every now and again are kinda necessary when you’re walking miles in the warm sun pushing overflowing strollers and carrying five year olds on your back.

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We actually ate pretty well at Disneyland. Lots of junk, for sure, but we had a few great meals as well.

Let’s start with that corn dog up there on the left. It. Was. Amazing. Not good for you, but totally worth it.

Each morning we walked through Downtown Disney to get to the parks and so we stopped at jamba juice or la brea bakery for quick, healthy-ish breakfasts. We did the same one evening for dinner – taking a break from Disneyland and grabbing a grilled panini from a sandwich shop in Downtown Disney.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for {and want to save a little bit on the cost of your meal}, walking the few minutes to Downtown Disney is a great way to go.

Ryan had heard that the Monte Cristo sandwich at Cafe Orleans in Disneyland was a must-have. So on our second day, we stopped for a nice sit-down lunch. It actually became one of our favorite memories of the trip. Sitting in the shade, letting the kids rest and color and chill for an hour – it was perfect. Ryan ordered the most decadent sandwich ever {that’s it on the bottom left} and I had the chunky salad {middle right} which was so good. The kid meal options were things like grilled chicken with spaghetti and broccoli or homemade mac & cheese {so good!} with fruit and veggies on the side. It was nice to feed our kids more than chicken nuggets or corn dogs.

I thought I would stick to a one-treat-per-day rule for the kids to save their teeth, our money and to avoid the inevitable can I have that! each time we passed a street vendor. However, I learned two things: 1. only one treat is impossible when grandma and grandpa are with you and 2. treats are fun. So we bought two bags of cotton candy and split it between all of us rather than one for each of us, or we split a frozen lemonade, or broke the pretzel into sharable pieces. By having only a little of each treat, it meant we could try more throughout the day.

Part of our disneyland package included a character dining experience at Goofy’s Kitchen at Disneyland Hotel. We ate their buffet dinner which was really not that great and neither were the desserts, but the kids though it was so much fun to help themselves to whatever they wanted {see No.2′s dessert plate on the middle left}. The draw of Goofy’s Kitchen is that favorite characters {Minnie Mouse, Chip, Pluto} and some more obscure ones {the Fairy Godmother, the Mad Hatter} visit each table and pose for photos. It would have cost our family of 8 about $250 for the meal, which was totally not worth it, but because it was free, it was a really fun thing to do.

California Adventure boasts Disney’s only Starbucks and I’m not sure why, but a tall, decaf, extra hot, one pump mocha just tastes better while sipping it from a disney parks cup.

The yummiest of all the treats we ate was ice cream from Ghiradelli in California Adventure. Ryan went all out and brought us back waffle cones dipped in chocolate filled with the creamiest ice cream ever. We sat on the sidewalk watching the Pixar parade making total drippy messes of ourselves and relished every second of it.

So did we eat well? Maybe not. But we made fun memories with the food and treats we did have.

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the happiest place on earth

They claim it’s the happiest place on earth.

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They are so right.

Our family plus my mom & sugar-daddy {that’s code for the best stepdad ever} spent a few days in disneyland two weeks ago. I just love everything about disneyland and could not wait to experience it through the eyes of my own children.

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It was a very full trip – you don’t sleep much when you’re in the magical world of disney – but every single moment was so worth it.

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I don’t think any of us stopped smiling.

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Except maybe No. 1 who after sitting through it once, affectionately referred to the It’s A Small World ride as the dreaded tower of doom.

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The kids were so excited to meet their favorite Disney characters, we ate all sorts of terribly unhealthy, but oh-so-worth-it food and from the oldest to the youngest, we all had the time of our lives on the rides.

Our favorite of all {especially the older boys} was the california screamin’ roller coaster in California Adventure. Want to take a ride with us?

That’s my head on the left and Ryan on the right. No. 1 & No. 2 are in front of us {daredevils} and grandpa is the videographer and the screamer.

{I might be screaming a little bit too}.

We seriously had the best family vacation we’ve ever taken and memories that will always be some of our favorites.

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Coming up this week: what I wore to disneyland, our favorite places to eat and some helpful disney tips to save you time and only a teeny bit of money.

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a note to my children

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When I was a little girl, all I could dream of was being a mommy. Your aunties and I played dolls until we were way too old for it. We crafted baby books with photos torn from clothing catalogs to document our imaginary children’s lives. I spent hours daydreaming about how many children I would have, what their names would be, what color hair they would have and, most importantly, what I would dress them in for family pictures. Once I was old enough, I spent my time babysitting and playing with kids in the church nursery, then later nannying for a family and falling in love with those children.

My friends in college would sometimes laugh at me because I just wanted to get married and have kids. I wasn’t looking for a career path, I didn’t have a strategic post-graduation plan. I had a boyfriend {your daddy} and the dream of marrying him and becoming a mommy.

Now that I’m here – on this side of my dream – with four healthy, bright, happy and unique children, there is something I want you to know.

My darling children, you have made my dream come true.

In my young mind, I wanted kids to dress up and cuddle and show off. I do that with you sometimes and it’s fun, for sure.

But, as it turns out, that is not my favorite part of motherhood.

From the moment I realized you were going to be part of our family, you each captured my heart. That love developed through the months of growing you in my tummy, holding you for the first time, staring at your perfect little face, admiring how you looked so much like your siblings and yet so very different. Each of you have your own personalities, you own talents, your own struggles and needs. As you grow, you become more and more of your own person and I get the best view to watch it all play out. I see things in you that remind me of daddy, you have mannerisms that you get from me. Then there are those things that are all your own and I get to find ways to encourage you, protect you, understand you … those are the best parts of being a mommy.

You are mine; we are forever connected, and I love you so much deeper than I ever knew was possible.

Yesterday a mama duck and her little ducklings started crossing the busy road. I slowed down and came to a stop {on the highway!} to avoid hurting them. After a few moments, their mama turned direction and her babies followed quickly after her.  It was the sweetest sight watching those tiny baby chicks waddle after their mama. They needed her and she led them confidently towards safety.

Sometimes, that’s how I feel. I feel like the mama duck with my little ducklings following after.

Sometimes I feel confident and walk with my chest held high, confident of where I’m going. I have four well-behaved, darling little babies and parade you proudly. Look what I’ve done!, I say. Look at these amazing children who call me mom!

But sometimes {okay, maybe a lot of times} I feel exhausted. I feel selfish. I feel ill-equipped.

Sometimes I feel like I’d rather not have four little ones following me at every turn. Sometimes I want to turn around and tell you to sit still or leave me alone or find someone else to follow. Sometimes I actually say those things and I’m so sorry for that. I’m not always the nicest mommy to you and I hope you will forgive me for my times of impatience and rudeness.

Sometimes I don’t know if I’m very good at motherhood. Am I answering your questions? Am I nurturing your heart? Am I teaching you to love people more than things? Are you well-rounded? Are you kind? Am I praying for you enough? Reading to you enough? Saving for you enough?

What I have learned over and over in my short years of being a mom is that as hard as I try to lead you confidently, I will let you down.  I am still a work in progress – I’m still figuring out how to be less selfish and well-rounded and kind right along with you.

So, my babies, here’s what I want to say to you today:

thank you.

Thank you for making me a mommy. For being a dream come true. For teaching me about selflessness and forgiveness and my unending need for grace. For making me laugh and being my companions. For following after me like those baby chicks. For wanting me and needing me and accepting me. You are the best children ever.

I love you, my darlings. Oh, how I love you.

xoxo,

mom

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