Category: Olivia Iris

Since switching over to Olive updates every other month, it feels like soooo long between check-ins about my favorite little girl.  Olive is changing and growing and doing new things daily and I can hardly keep up.  She keeps me on my toes for sure!  I looked up the last update post right now and I couldn’t believe how young she looks.  I better get to posting this update before she changes again!  ;-)  Here’s everything new up to June 12th!

in our dot dot smile and lularoe dresses!

  • We went camping over Mother’s Day weekend at Lopez Lake.  I guess we cheated a little because we stayed in a lovely rental RV via Get Away RV Rentals.  It’s pretty great arriving to your campsite with the RV already set-up with running water, flushing toilets, a comfy bed and stocked kitchen!  We had some friends also camping that weekend so we enjoyed boat rides, sand between our toes, fishing and scrumptious BBQs together.  I hope that Olive grows to love camping and the outdoors as much as we do.  This is our 2nd Mother’s Day camping at Lopez Lake; how many times qualify as tradition?
  • Grandpa (my Dad) visited for a quick 24-hour trip and Olive had a blast with him.  We did our usual activities with him: southern-style breakfast, shopping at Target, and steak dinner.  We took Dad to Jocko’s (his first time) and he loved it as much as we knew he would.  You really can’t beat their steaks (or ribs, oh my gooooodness those ribs).
  • Lots of park days together.  The past two months were tough with the miscarriage and tons of doctor’s appointments, so I constantly wanted to get outside with Olive.  We had a lot of sweet afternoons trying out local parks together.  She still is crazy about the slide and enjoys putting her little Mickey Mouse down the slide, too.  She puts her hands up most of the time, and screams “Wheeee!” every.single.time.  It is inspiring how much joy this girl has in the simple things.  Olive also loves climbing and is really brave with every kind of ladder and structure.
  • We also got fully immersed in story time at our local library.  One morning a week, we join some pals for a 30 minute story time that includes songs and nursery rhymes.  Olive looks forward to it every week and we began checking out three new books every visit.  I love this part of our routine.  :)
  • She went through a puzzle phase where she wanted to work on simple puzzles every morning for a while.  She’s really good at them!
  • We went to Disneyland (2nd time!) with her two cousins (A&A), Erik’s sister and bro-in-law, and our dear friend Jackie (and her baby boy).  Sooo much fun!  It really is Olive’s happy place.  She had another tear-jerking encounter with Mickey; she just loves the mouse.
  • I started letting her push her own mini cart at Trader Joe’s.  It’s equal parts adorable (she loves it) and terrifying (I’m sooo scared she’s going to run into some sweet granny’s ankles!).
  • We fell in love with the SB Zoo and had to get zoo passes.
  • Chick-Fil-A is our standard stop on many late-night drives.  Olive loves their nuggets and let’s be real: so do I.
  • Her hair color is incredible.  It is changing all the time but it has so much variation in it.
  • Olive loves to sing and talk all day long; she is a total chatterbox.  I love watching her personality bloom.  She’s definitely playful, energetic, silly, sympathetic and a bit stubborn, too.  ;-)
  • She’s fully potty trained!!  I actually went cold turkey off of the diapers one afternoon.  Erik and I took her to the store, let her pick out her undies (Hello Kitty and Minnie Mouse, of course) and went for it.  She had been familiarized with the potties for months (we have both a little one on the ground and a seat that goes on top of the regular toilet) but we just went to full implementation.  I have heard that this method has backfired on some people but so far, it has been great for Olive.  I think it just boils down to her being ready.  We still put her in a diaper overnight but she wakes up dry almost daily.  I’m so grateful to have reached this milestone!

Here is another photomosaic — an update staple:

Olive — it just gets better and better with you.  We love every moment with you, sweet girl.  Thank you for always cracking us up with your antics, never turning down an opportunity to dance, and saying “I love you SOOOO much” at just the right moments.  In difficult times, you have been a reminder of the greatness of our blessings.  You are such a treasure and anyone who meets you tells us the same.  It is such a joy being your parents.  -All my love, Mama

I hope you’re all having a great week so far.  It’s another wedding week (hooray!) so I’m counting down until the celebrations unfold beginning on Friday.  I couldn’t have a sweeter couple this weekend; love you guys L&B!!!  See you all soon!

Our family has fallen in love with the Santa Barbara Zoo.  Olive has been twice in the last two weeks and we just got a membership to ensure we can enjoy it year-round!  The SB Zoo is a smaller zoo but is the perfect size for little ones.  The grounds are lush and park-like, and absolutely beautiful.  You can tell the property is well-maintained and in fact, it is a pretty popular venue for weddings!

They have a great variety of animals on display including giraffes, lions, gorillas, elephants and Olive’s favorite: penguins!  I love the cheery pink flamingos and the otters.  :)  They also have a charming little train (which, granted, is pretty expensive for a ride around the property) that is worth checking out.

Here are some photos from our two recent trips (the first with me, and the second with Erik and his parents — Olive’s grandparents).  The photos are mixed together, hence the two different outfits.

Serene and lovely grounds

Matilija poppies are some of my favorite native Californian flowers.  They look like big sunny-side-up eggs!

This photo cracks me up, considering we are creationists.  Just couldn’t resist her expression here!

In line to feed the giraffe, Michael!

Love this pic of Olive with her Grandma Del (Erik’s mom!).  Picture perfect!

Mesmerized.

Fancy flamingos

Next to the train that Olive kept calling Thomas :)

Leading the way!

Tip: A sweet friend let me in on the fabulous reciprocal zoo membership program.  There are lots of zoos nationwide that offer reciprocal entry to their facilities when you hold membership with one of them.  The SB Zoo has a family membership of $90/annually (great price) but I found that the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero has an equivalent membership of $60/annually, and it has the SB Zoo on its list of reciprocal facilities!  Yay for saving $30!  I actually haven’t been to the Charles Paddock Zoo yet, but I look forward to checking it out.  For my southern Californians, the Santa Ana Zoo is on the list (free) and the LA Zoo is 50% off.

Hope you all are having a great Monday!  I’m recharging after a fabulous wedding weekend (congrats J&C!!!) and am preparing for the next beautiful event around the corner.  Today I was in Paso Robles for a site visit and the gorgeous drive through wine country really rejuvenated me.  I am so blessed to live here and do what I do.  Grateful.  :)

Before putting Olive to sleep (for her nap in the afternoon or in the evening), we always pray together as a family.  We each take a turn, starting with Olive, then me, and ending with Erik.  When Olive was younger, only Erik prayed but she has since desired to pipe up and share her own sweet words.  Her prayers used to be a pretty predictable formula.  She’d say, in her tiny voice: Dear Jesus, Thank you for Mama.  Thank you for Dada. Baby brother. Amen.  The prayer for a baby brother (her only request) has been around since the last time I told her I was pregnant and she still hasn’t stopped.  I’ll take all the prayers we can get.  ;-)

Love this candid snap from today: her left foot turned out, her funky expression.
I think she’s about to say, “Mooooom.  I don’t like to take a picture please.”

These days, Olive has been coming up with some pretty hilarious (and adorable) prayer requests so I thought I’d start sharing a running list here.  In the past week, Olive has thanked God for:

  • Aunt Anna
  • Uncle Sean
  • “Ruby Puppy” (Anna and Sean’s miniature long-haired dachshund)
  • Her grandparents
  • Herself (she refers to herself as “baby” —  Thank you for baby.)
  • Fries (oh brother)
  • Perry (the platypus from Phineas and Ferb)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, from the beloved Eric Carle book
  • Food (in general)
  • Her crib
  • Erik (actually referring to him as Erik rather than Dada! haha!)
  • Mickey and Minnie
  • Her blankets (in her crib), especially her “owl blankie”

I can’t wait to hear what’s next.  ;-)  Hope you’re having a great start to the week!

Oh, what a lovely weekend can do for the soul!  I woke up today refreshed and just beaming about the three sweet days I spent.  Now I didn’t go on vacation or spend time on the beach or by a pool and I didn’t even stay away from work…  It was just three very balanced days of fun and fulfilling work, laughs and moments with my family and sweet time with friends.

Here are snapshots from our time together…

Pretty moments at a ladies’ tea I hosted for some women from my church

my first cold brew, using my Toddy.  I’m totally addicted; yum!

Olive’s first pony ride = slightly traumatic :(

Beautiful dance performance (love these colorful Jalisco-style dresses) at a local Heritage Day celebration

Checking out the iconic Wells Fargo stagecoach

Loved this sweet guy.

goofy moments with my favorite girl

A gorgeous meal at Ember Restaurant // a full review is coming in a future post!

On another note, I want to express my belated but heartfelt gratitude for all those men and women who gave their lives while serving our country.  I am so thankful to live here in the beautiful United States of America!

I hope you’re having a great week!  I’m back to inbox duty, preparing for June and July weddings just around the corner!

Thank you SO much for the incredible outpouring of love and support following my last post.  I was overwhelmed, frankly, by the number of texts, emails, messages and comments I received from friends and strangers alike.  A lot of the messages came from my current and past clients going back 8+ years and that really blew me away.  I want to thank each of you for taking the time to reach out in love and support.  It means so much to me and I truly appreciate it.  I have made it over the hump, so to speak, and my heart and body are healing everyday.  I continue to remain hopeful for the future.

Mother’s Day was a little bittersweet this year — celebrating my blessing on earth but mourning those in heaven — but I still had a wonderful day with my family.  We went to church, had In-N-Out for lunch (just like every Sunday!), and put Olive down for a nap.  Our plan was to leave right after her nap for Cambria — our “traditional” destination for Mother’s Day.  As we began driving that afternoon, however, I realized that we would get there after all of my favorite antique shops had closed.  So, we made a detour and simply enjoyed the beach, a park, and some takeout for dinner.  We have plans to get to Cambria this week so I’ll share about those forthcoming adventures soon.  :)

Love this pic of us.  I’m wearing my new fav dress from LuLaRoe — so comfy and feminine; I’m obsessed!

Our simple little afternoon and evening together reminded me to be thankful for the little moments that we often take for granted.  I loved having Erik with us at the park since he is usually working when I take Olive to play.  He got to hear her say, “Whee!!” two dozen times as she rode down the slide.  He helped her hang from the monkey bars and chased her around in the sand.  We laughed with each other as we admired her quirks, her energy, her silly and playful nature.  We had strangers take our picture so we could get a group shot.  Unfortunately hey turned out horrible but I’m glad we have them.  :)

Erik wrote me the most beautiful card and of course, it made me cry.  I am so thankful for him in times of joy and sorrow; he is always a source of wisdom, strength and unconditional love.  It is so crazy to think we met when I was 19 and look at us now, being adults and raising a daughter and what not.  ;-)  Love you, babe.

oh Olive!

And Olive.  I gave her a pass this year but expect a card or something next year.  ;-)  She is amazing and I thank God everyday for her.  After years of praying and crying and pleading for a child, she was the one who arrived in our arms.  I She surprises me everyday with her thoughtfulness, her natural affection, her tender heart.  If the Lord only gives us one child, I am grateful it is her.  I cherish every moment with her knowing that this life is fleeting.

Olive — I am so blessed to be your mama.  You are my favorite gift and the perfect addition to our family.  You have changed my life in every way for the better; I can barely remember what it was like before you arrived.  Every Mother’s Day I will be reminded of how my prayers were answered in you.  And everyday that I am on this earth, I will be loving you with all my heart.  xoxo, Mama

On a final note, I want to send lots of love to the two moms in my life…

  • my mother-in-law, Delores, who raised an amazing son and is someone I could sit and chat with for hours (and I often do!).  She’s a friend to everyone she meets and is so devoted to her family.
  • my umma, Grace.  She epitomizes sacrificial love and she would do anything for her children (and now grandchild).  When she was a single mom raising two daughters, she slept on the floor and I slept on a bed.  She worked three jobs to send me to the programs and events I wanted to attend and always found a way to be generous with us when we had so little.  If I tell her I like something she’s wearing, it frequently goes home with me (haha I promise I don’t take advantage of this!).  After Olive was born, we stayed with her for a week so I could rest and recover.  When I stay with her now, she still makes me a gourmet breakfast and packs me a snack for the car.  :)  Staying with her is better than staying at a 5-star hotel.  She also sent me a big box of han yak today (Chinese/Korean herbs) to take post-miscarriage.  If you know you know — it’s a big deal, even if it’s the nastiest stuff on the planet.  We are opposites in many ways but one thing that is clear is that she loves her children passionately.  I will always be indebted to my Umma and am so grateful for all that she has done, and continues to do, for me.

Hope you all are having a great start to your week!

A simple Friday was just what I needed.  Today I woke up, took a refreshing shower, gave Olive a bath (her absolute favorite thing lately — she’d stay in for an hour if we let her) and made us breakfast.  She sat in my lap patiently while I braided her hair into two fishtail plaits.  I let her watch an episode of Super Why and I annoyed her the entire time by staring at her beautiful profile and snapping dozens of photos of her.  Because, well, she is ridiculously beautiful.  I could totally see her as a teen rolling her eyes and saying, “Ugh Mooooooom — no more pictures!”  ;-)

first fishtail braids

cozy feet on the couch

We played on the floor of the sunroom and sang silly songs.  We went to the children’s museum and played for over an hour in the marvelous air-conditioned facility.  It was the perfect way to escape the heat.  Olive made friends with everyone she met, excitedly delivered the mail to all the mailboxes in the pretend city, prepared a dozen imaginary meals for me in the diner, and became obsessed with the shadow wall (she finally “got it” this time and started posing and kicking her legs to create funny silhouettes).  No photos to show for it, though.

After spotting a young mom on her phone in the museum, completely ignoring her adorable 2 year-old son, I just had that pang of guilt.  How many times have I been glued to my phone while Olive pulls on my leg or asks for something, even if it was in the privacy of my own home?  In this case, the boy kept trying to show his mama something, asking for her attention, hoping to interact with her.  He noticed me chatting excitedly with Olive and came over to play with us.    We made a 7 tier plastic cake and dined on imaginary pizza and swept the play kitchen and his mom didn’t even raise her eyes to glance at us.  I tried to speak to her myself, asking about her son, and she barely looked at me while returning one word answers.  Before we left, the little boy hugged my leg and said, “I like you” and kissed my knee.  I told her how sweet he was and she said, “Yeah, he does that a lot lately.”  Now let me say this: I have no judgment for this mama; I have no idea what she was going through, what kind of day or week or month she is having, or who she is.  I only witnessed a brief snippet of their lives today.  But, what I saw was enough to impact me and make me reflect on my own presence in Olive’s life.  I want to always be engaged with Olive when I am with her; I don’t want to be too busy to play and sing and dance and be silly.  I don’t need to take a photo of everything we do; the experience and memory is enough.  Maybe it’s even better, without the pressure and need to capture it.  So the phone stayed in my purse all afternoon, and the only photos I have from this perfect day are from this morning.

love this photo… even the thrashed floors the previous owners left for us. (to be refinished this summer) But in this photo, all I see is my magical Olive.

Olive hugged and kissed me more than 5x during lunch (out of nowhere) just saying, “Mama, I love you.”  It’s as if she knows exactly what I need and when I need it.  It blows me away, how God has blessed me with this little one.  Oh Olive, I love you too.  More than you know.

A simple Friday was just what I needed today and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

Have a great weekend, loves!

Hello everyone!  I hope your week is off to a lovely start.  I am taking a break from invitation assembly (Hi J&C!!) to catch you all up on my favorite two year old (gasp!!), Olive.  I wrote her a 2nd birthday letter but never posted an official 24 month update here.  I decided that since so many of you enjoy the updates, I would continue sharing them here but perhaps slightly less often.  ;-)  So, here is the latest in the world of Olive from February 12-April 12, 2014:

  • We celebrated Valentine’s Day as a family — first with a toddler/mama party and then with a dinner out in San Luis Obispo
  • Olive spent a few days with her Halmunee (my mom) while I went on a wedding planner escape!  They visited the Santa Barbara Zoo, took walks on the beach, and just enjoyed one another.  I am so grateful for their sweet relationship!
  • We enjoyed many great park days.  Olive still can’t get enough of the “baby slide.”  She also loves climbing the nets and the curved monkey bars.  She is brave and persistent and I love watching her try new things at the playground.
  • Olive encountered the magic of Disneyland and hasn’t been the same since.  She still talks about her meeting with the Mouse.
  • We celebrated my 30th birthday with some dear friends and Olive spent most of her time sharing snacks with the puppy, Ruby!
  • Olive turned TWO and we celebrated with a simple home party with family and friends.
  • We had a joint March birthday celebration with two of our friends: Blake and J5 (and mommies Melody and Christina).  It was  a great time of getting all our favorite families together for açai bowls and a bounce house.
  • We have been enjoying our backyard and sideyard and all the new vegetables and fruits we’ve planted.  (Garden update coming soon!)  Olive is always eager to go outside with Daddy and help pick arugula and kale for a salad, or check on the “wiggly worms” in the raised beds.  I still can’t stomach the sight of a caterpillar so we’ll leave that task to the two of them.  Ugh!
  • The Kaisers came to stay for a weekend and we had a blast.  Olive loved playing with Grace and Jasper — she is always so quick to make new friends.
  • We visited the San Luis Obispo Firehouse and Olive went NUTS for the “fiyah en-jun.”  She was so eager to put on her little fire helmet and buckle herself into the truck.  It was hard tearing her away from the station!!
  • Funny phrases: “That’s right, Mama!  Very good!” (when I answer one of her questions correctly) // “No no no!” while waving a finger at us // “It’s baby turn!  That’s baby shoes.  It’s baby Mickey!” (her form of possessive) // “Mama come back!  I miss you Mama.” (when I get her in the morning or after a nap) // “Washin’ da booty” (sung while I put her into the bath… oh brother.)

Whew!  I tried to be as concise as possible in summing up two busy months.  Here is a little photomosaic of our fun:

Olive — Everyday with you is an adventure.  You are so hilarious, playful, tender-hearted, sympathetic, affectionate, and kind.  You also have a passionate and stubborn streak when it comes to things you want really badly (Dole Whip at Disneyland, haha) or things you absolutely don’t want (like a bite of grilled trout last night).  You are chatty all day long, asking questions and pointing things out or just telling us what you like, love, need, and want.  We are grateful everyday for the joy you bring to our lives.  A part of me wishes you could stay this age forever but as each day gets better and better, I know the best is yet to come.  Love you to the moon and back.  xoxo, Mama

Have a great afternoon and see you again soon!

Happy Friday, everyone!  At this time one week ago, I was fluffing pillows and chopping veggies and preparing for a sweet little weekend with our dear friends, the Kaisers.  I met Nate and Jaclyn (photographers behind The Image is Found) in 2006 when we were all young and fresh-faced in the industry, as we worked with some amazing clients on a posh Hollywood Hills estate wedding.  We had an instant click that night and over the course of the last 8 years (!) we have made some awesome memories together.  They have photographed us multiple times, most notably for this bride & groom session we shot in a dried out lake bed in the rain in early 2007.  ;-)  My friendship with Nate and Jac has always been so natural and easy.  We just get each other.  We can go months without seeing each other and then boom — we get together and laugh until we cry like we never were apart.  Jac has also been such a loving and supportive friend to me through hard times.  When I had my first miscarriage in 2011, she was the first to send me a little love package, an encouraging book, and a heartfelt note.  To know the Kaisers is to love the Kaisers and I am so grateful they are in my life.

circa 2010??

When we used to live in LA and they lived in SD/Oceanside, we would meet in Orange County for catch up lunches.  Now that they live in the mountains and we live further up the coast, our visits have been fewer and farther between.  So, I was thrilled to have them stay with us for a few days while they shot a wedding in Paso Robles last weekend.  They arrived on Friday and we shared a scrumptious homemade vegetarian meal (butternut squash ravioli and sundried tomato soup!) together before staying up late giggling and catching up.  On Saturday, we had a delicious brunch at The Natural Cafe in SLO before Nate and Jac headed off to shoot their wedding.  Erik and I took the three kiddos (Grace, Jasper, and Olive) to Avila Valley Barn where we visited adorable animals (including alpacas and goats), enjoyed saltwater taffy and local honey, and took a requisite hayride.  Back at home, Erik took Jasper and Olive in the backyard to hunt for four-leafed clovers (we found 7 in under 15 minutes!  Isn’t that amazing?!  I don’t think I ever found one as a kid.) while Grace and I made a batch of homemade caramel ice cream.  You guys — it turned out to be the most decadent and luscious ice cream ever.  Recipe coming soon!!

While Olive napped, Erik and I played Monopoly with the Kaiser kiddos.  We had heard Jasper was a fierce competitor (and he was!), but Erik took no prisoners and destroyed us all (typical).  Around sunset, we headed to one of my favorite local parks (overlooking the vast Pacific) to run off some energy and explore the shores as the tide came in.  Then we picked up some delicious local pizza and ate it on a blanket spread out in the living room, picnic-style, while watching Frozen.  It was such a sweet and simple day.  The kids got along SO well.  I think I pinched Erik a few times throughout the day and whispered how much I’d love to have three kids one day.  ;-)

Nate and Jac got home after the kids were tucked in, and we sat up late (again), devouring caramel ice cream and cracking up over hilarious stories about our awkward teen years.  Oh geez!

They set off for Solvang on Sunday so I had Grace snap this quick photo on our steps before church.  I love hosting guests in our home but even more than that, I love nourishing enduring relationships with wonderful friends.  Thank you, Kaisers, for such a wonderful time!  We love you and can’t wait to come see you in the mountains!

I hope you all have a great weekend!  I’m speaking at the sold-out Enjoy Events Co. workshop on Sunday and will be up tonight putting the final touches on my presentation.  Yay!  If you haven’t entered our blog/site launch giveaway, make sure to do so before Sunday night!  Thanks for stopping by — see you again soon.  :)

No April Fool’s jokes here… I am honestly just excited to see this month arrive.  Once April unfolds, I feel like the entire spring and summer come tumbling behind at super speed.  I glance at my spring/summer wedding calendar and know that all of these dates will be here before I know it.  I can’t wait!

tulips and muscari in our mailbox planter

Today I have been cleaning house (literally), having been recently inspired by Clean My Space.  I found Melissa on YouTube this weekend and was instantly hooked on her fun cleaning videos (I know it seems crazy, but stay with me).  Am I the only one who gets major clean-spiration from watching and reading things like this??  You give me a cleaning checklist or show me a new trick for organizing and I’m totally energized to tidy and mop and scrub.  Anyone??  Well today I tackled four loads of laundry, overhauled Olive’s closet and vacuumed two rooms… and dinner is already in the works.  I’m feeling unstoppable!  ;-)  My toughest task is purging.  I’m not a hoarder by any means, but I’m certainly nostalgic and I find it difficult to let go of mementos.  Thankfully I am getting better at it but I still wonder if one day someone will rife through my stuff and find it odd that I kept all my high school drama production playbills.

In other news around the house, Erik spent most of the weekend leveling and filling in our side yard with float rock (a light colored landscaping rock).  I love the look of it and can’t wait to add some outdoor furniture, a grill, and maybe a hammock??  He also built another raised bed planter to add there.  We picked out four heirloom tomato varieties for planting and we’re nearing harvest time for some of our leafy veggies.  It’s amazing to see how beautifully everything has come up, when all we did was plant and water.  Next up, he’ll be putting up a new wooden fence and gate for that area.  I’m hoping that by the end of the month, we will finally get to refinishing the hardwood floors inside the house and tackling the kitchen cabinets.

from two recent site visits // dallidet adobe & saddlerock ranch

Our busiest time of year for weddings is just ahead so I’m handling lots of walkthroughs, timelines, stationery design, floor plans and design presentations right now.  Seeing things fall into place for each event makes me so excited.  I’m also working on my presentation for the Enjoy Events Co. workshop next weekend in Santa Barbara.  I am honored to be a guest speaker and hope to share lots of useful information with the attendees.  I think a couple seats may still be available if you want to check it out!

And perhaps most exciting of all: my completely new website and blog will launch very soon!!!  I cannot wait to share them with you so stay tuned.  ;-)

meal plan + shopping list from a few weeks ago // LOVE this meal planning pad from my friend rachel of heart of light

For now, I’m off to pour myself a glass of home-grown lemonade (yum!) and finish my weekly meal plan before we go to the grocery store this afternoon.  How was your day??

requisite photo of Olive :)

See you again soon!

Just a couple weeks ago, Olive had the time of her life visiting Disneyland for the very first time.  As longtime Disney-philes (Erik and I have been to Disney World in Florida 2x, Tokyo Disney, and are previous Disneyland annual pass holders), we had been eagerly awaiting this milestone with her.  But, I am glad we ultimately waited until she was nearly 2 to make this special trip.  I think she was at the perfect age to really soak in everything around her, interact with some characters and remember (in the short-term, anyway!) things about the day.  If we ask her about Disneyland, she can recount to us the rides she went on, the characters she saw, and on and on.  ;-)  It was a perfect first Disney experience.

Our visit was facilitated by our dear friend Jackie whose husband, Brendan, (Erik’s longtime friend — he was in our wedding and Erik officiated Brendan and Jackie’s wedding!) works for Disney.  That means she can sign us in (woohoo!) when we are in town.  ;-)  A biggggg thank you goes out to Jackie (and baby X!) for making our day so special; we can’t wait to revisit with Brendan joining us!

her Mickey from home had to join us!  She didn’t love her 1st visit button so this is the only pic of her wearing it.

Erik and I weren’t sure what to expect with Olive’s first visit.  Would she be terrified of the characters?  Would she be overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds and activities?  Would she be too scared (or too small) to go on any rides?  When would she nap and where?  Would we push her in the stroller or let her walk?  Would we have any fun?  Well, here’s a recap of our adventure and a few suggestions I’d offer to anyone planning their own child’s first Disney trip!

We got to Disneyland about an hour after opening and it was just right.  We didn’t have to stand around waiting for the park to open and we didn’t have crazy parking drama from arriving too late.  We parked quickly, grabbed a stroller and got straight to it!  We decided to do both parks that day (Disney CA Adventure + Disneyland) so we started at DCA.  Olive’s first ride was Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.  The Little Mermaid was my favorite Disney movie growing up so I thought it was only appropriate.  ;-)  Olive was fascinated overall but did find some parts (with Ursula) “too scawy.”  Other rides we hit in DCA were:  The Golden Zephyr (maybe a little too fast for her.. she got nervous toward the end but luckily the ride was already winding down at that point), Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train and Francis’ Ladybug Boogie (a teeny version of the teacups).  Our lunch stop was the Lucky Fortune Cookery at DCA.  Their rice bowls are pretty yummy and filling.  (My other quick DCA fav is clam chowder in a Boudin bread bowl!)

After lunch, we headed over to Disneyland.  As we were walking through the gates, we spotted Mickey Mouse in front of the Main Street Cinema.  It was perfect timing as we only waited about 5 minutes to meet the mouse.  Olive’s initial Mickey meeting was better than I could have dreamed.  She walked up to him slowly, then held both of his hands and asked gently, “Mickey??”  They hugged, she kissed him on his nose, and they cuddled some more until I realized we probably should let the other families in line have a turn.  :)  As soon as we had finished, we bumped into both Donald and Pluto so we had to meet them, too!  Since we were able to get photos with 3 characters in one place, we decided not to spend any additional time that day standing in line to meet other characters.  We’ll save Minnie and co. for next time.  ;-)

Rides we went on in Disneyland: Dumbo (2x), the carousel, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (I love the nostalgia of it but it is a pretty disturbing ride!  Olive deemed it “too scawwy” as well.), Storybook Land Canal Boats, Casey Jr. Circus Train (a must for my Dumbo-loving girl), Pirates of the Caribbean (Olive was half asleep for most of it, haha) and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.  We also made a requisite stop for Dole Whip (which resulted in a near meltdown when Olive got a taste and wanted to desperately shovel the rest into her mouth.  Erik took her for a walk while I finished it off!).  What did we expect?  Everyone knows Dole Whip is irresistible.  ;-)  We chose the ubiquitous Mickey ears for her first souvenir and she still can’t get enough of them.  Even with the personalization, they were quite a bargain and well worth the price.

Olive usually runs on a very normal schedule.  She naps like clockwork everyday for 2-3 hours.  So how did she do with all the stimulation at Disneyland?  Well, she fell asleep in line for Casey Jr. (at her typical nap time) but we chose to wake her up when we finally got on the ride because we knew she’d love it.  And of course, she was completely enthralled when she heard the song cue up and we began moving.  Unfortunately she never truly fell asleep again, aside from another quick catnap in the evening.  Erik and I decided to take a chance and go on Pirates with her on my lap and it paid off.  I’m glad we got to enjoy one of our favorite rides together.  I think Olive did really well sans nap (aside from the Dole Whip incident, no other meltdowns occurred) but I know this will vary from kiddo to kiddo.  If we were visiting the resort over a few days, I’d probably return to the hotel in the afternoon for her nap to keep her happiest.

We ended up staying until closing (at 8p) but skipped World of Color (the spectacular nighttime show in DCA) this time.  It was a fantastic day filled with so much laughter and joy and wonder.

getting sleepy on the Storybook boats

Dole Whip, pre-incident

Here are my tips for anyone planning first trips with their little ones:

  • Start early — I’m glad we began our day early when Olive is generally the most energetic and happy.  It also meant we got to ride a lot of rides without much of a wait, avoiding the burgeoning afternoon and evening crowds.  And although we skipped World of Color, we did get Fast Passes for the show (which run out very quickly in the day) because we arrived early.
  • Pack snacks — Disneyland is great about letting you bring in your own bottled water and snacks.  We brought a bunch of goodies including Plum Organics pouches, almond crackers and fresh fruit.  It helped us keep Olive content and well-fed throughout the day, especially when she suddenly needed a snack and we were smack in the middle of a line.
  • Rent a stroller — we went back and forth about bringing our own nice stroller but ultimately didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of leaving it at the entrances of rides.  Instead of buying an umbrella stroller (which would never use again), we rented a Disneyland stroller.  It was roomy, comfortable, had a better height than most umbrella strollers (Erik is 6’4″ so pushing short umbrella strollers is awkward for him!) and had room for storage under the seat.  The canopy is also really big which was great for sun protection and some extra storage (we put Erik’s backpack on top of it).  We still carried our valuables onto each ride but it was great to not worry about our stroller in the park.
  • Let your kiddo set the pace — We knew that taking Olive meant going for her.  We are both huge kids at heart and we love rides so it was different going to the park and not hitting any of our favorite attractions.  But, we ended up riding things we had never gone on before (!) and enjoying the experience in an entirely different way.  With adjusted expectations, we were able to enjoy our visit so much more.  That said, I still can’t wait until Olive is tall enough to go on the “big rides” with us!
  • Be flexible — We didn’t have a real plan or list of things to do or see.  We went with the flow and never pushed the pace.  I felt like we were never rushed but we were still able to do and see a lot!

last pic of the night!

I hope you all are having a great week!  It has been such a busy few days that I am in disbelief that it’s Thursday.  Wasn’t it *just* the weekend??  I’m off to run errands with Olive; see you again soon!