Gracie Goes to Disneyland: The Adventures of Our Elf on the Shelf!

A few weeks before our family left for Disneyland, I asked Chris “How funny would it be if Gracie made the trip to Disneyland with us?” to which he replied “Let’s do it!”.  I’m so thankful for a husband who is game for my silly antics!

Gracie was packed & ready to go the morning we left!


She sat up front with us.  The funny thing is, Chris and I drove by ourselves as the girls rode with my parents.


Finally to the state line!


They didn’t look too scary so I picked these two up!  What do you think the chances were that a bus-load of prisoners would pass us as we were taking this picture? Yep….totally happened!  


Raring & ready to go the first morning!


Checking out the crowd while hanging out on Aunt Jenny’s shoulder.


Happy to be safe & sound with Chris!


The obligatory photo op by the tree!


Gracie had no idea that Space Mountain would be as fast as it was!


It’s a Small World was definitely more her speed!  She was thrilled to see the North Pole! She rode the whole ride on Grandpa’s shoulder…he’s such a good sport!


The Jingle Cruise was another favorite!


Ready for our character breakfast on Christmas morning!


She loved the attention from Rafiki!


And thought Alice was definitely beautiful!


Her favorite ride of all was definitely California Screamin’! She was happy to be sitting next to Skylar! (Sorry for the picture of a picture!)


All in all it was an amazing vacation for Gracie!  She is hoping for a family Christmas cruise next year!  We sent her back to the North Pole with the message to Santa to help make that happen!

I hope you enjoyed Gracie’s adventure to Disneyland!

Make it a great week!


*We clearly do not follow the “don’t touch the elf or she’ll lose her power” rule!  We were more than happy to include everyone in on the fun with Gracie!



























Oh, the Magic of Disney!

One of my favorite parts of taking Skylar to Disneyland is her absolute joy when she sees the characters!  She usually spots the characters and says “It’s (insert whatever character we happen to run into)! I need to ask him something!” or “I need to tell them a story!”.  She gets so excited and just can’t wait to ask whatever question is running through her head.  It is an absolute joy to watch!

This trip was no different!  After Peter Pan literally ran into Hailey by the teacups, he stopped to visit with our family.  Skylar was so excited.  She launched into a story about how he fought Captain Hook and how exciting it was.  She was so animated!  The best part was watching the two of them interact.  I was able to capture a bit of their interaction in photos.

It started out with “Um…Hi!  I’m Skylar.  I’m your biggest fan!” and just went from there.





As we walked away Skylar said “That was AWESOME!  I love him!”

So thankful for the magic of Disney and the absolute joy that it brings my sweet girl!

And thank you Peter Pan!  You are doing it right!

Make it great my friends!


If you missed the re-cap in pictures of our Christmas trip to Disneyland, you can see them HERE!

Our Christmas Trip to Disneyland!

When we went to Disneyland in April in conjunction with our trip to see Skylar’s Mitochondrial specialist, never in a million years did we think that we would be going back for Christmas.  However, when your dad calls and says “I’m taking everyone to Disneyland over Christmas break!” it happens.  We went with my folks and my sister’s family so there were 12 of us in all.  I have some specific pictures and series of pictures from our trip that I will share seperately, but today I’m going to share some of my favorites that were snapped by either me or my sister.

I love this picture of Skylar and my niece, Rebecca as they got off the shuttle on our first day.


The kids were pretty excited to find a short wait to ride the rockets.


Hailey and Ben have always been close and this trip was no different.


I love that my sister was intentional about snapping pictures of my mom.  She often steps out of the pictures.


Our elf, Gracie made the trip with us (more on that in another post) and she hung out with Skylar for the Jingle Cruise, the Christmas version of the Jungle Cruise.


Waiting for our report time for the Finding Nemo Submarine ride.


My parents got suckered into going on the Teacups with my niece, Sam.  The other adults were pretty much adamant about not going on rides that spin!


Peter Pan literally ran right in to Hailey while we were by the teacups so he took lots of time with our family.  He was awesome!  Such a fun personality!


I love that Chris photobombed Skylar and Hailey’s picture with Rafiki.  We went to Goofy’s Kitchen for the character breakfast on Christmas morning.  The kids loved seeing all the different characters.


Rebecca took a selfie with all the characters.  It was hilarious!


My absolute favorite picture from the trip was actually the picture that was snapped as Hailey, Ben, Jenny, Chris, Rebecca, and Emily came down Splash Mountain.  I seriously crack up each time I look at it.  Everyone’s faces are hilarious, but my favorite has to be Rebecca!  I’ll just say that she had the most “expressive” response and to top it off, her hair went crazy!  She actually looks like she is trying to flee from the log ride.


Looking forward to sharing more from our trip to Disneyland along with our experience with the new Disability Access Service Card.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Make it great!



It’s All A Lie!

Hello friends!  It’s time for another installment of No Filter Friday.  This is the time that I love to share things that the girls have said or done that have left us red-faced, laughing, and sometimes speechless.  I have mainly shared stories of Skylar and her lack of filter here on my blog, but what many of you don’t know is that Hailey also lacks a filter, just to a lesser degree. In many ways it is refreshing how brutally honest the girls are, but it can be embarrassing.  If you are new to my blog or missed previous posts, you can click here for a complete list of No Filter Friday stories.

Today’s story is about Hailey.  For you to really enjoy this story I must give you some background.  Her class recently did a project call the Living History Museum. In this project the students picked a famous figure from history, wrote a research paper, and then presented a 1-2 minute speech about their figure in a Living History Museum.  It was a really cool project.  Hailey submitted her list of people for consideration and found out that she would be researching Davey Crockett.

When she came home from school with a packet of information about the history museum I realized that she would need to dress up as her character.  One day after school we were talking and I told her that I was going to order a coonskin cap for her to wear.  She quickly told me that she had learned the following:

-It was David Crockett NOT Davey.  He never went by Davey.

-He NEVER wore a coonskin cap.  He wore a brown felt hat.

-He wasn’t “King of the Wild Frontier”.  He was famous for serving in Congress and later fighting in the Battle of the Alamo.  All the stuff from the Disney show was fabricated after his death.

Wow!  I was totally surprised.  I had no idea.  I was impressed with how much she was learning about David Crockett.  Suffice it to say, I did NOT order a coonskin cap. She dressed up like an old-timey Congressman for her history museum.  I was so proud of all the work she did!  She gave her speech over 25 times to other students, parents, & visitors.

We recently made a trip to Disneyland and ventured into Frontierland.  I asked Hailey if she wanted to ride on the Davey Crockett Canoe Ride.  She said “ok” and so we got in line.  As we were waiting, the Disney cast member came by (in a coonskin cap) and asked the girls if they were “excited to ride in Davey Crockett’s canoe and to see the wild frontier he was the king of?”.  Hailey had the following conversation with the cast member.
Hailey:  Did you know that Davey Crockett NEVER wore a coonskin cap?
Disney guy: Sure he did!
Hailey:  No he didn’t!  He wore a brown felt hat.
Disney guy:  I think he wore a coonskin cap for a play once.
Hailey:  No he didn’t!! His name was David, NOT Davey! He was NEVER the “King of the Wild Frontier”.  He NEVER wore a coonskin cap AND he fought and died at the battle of the Alamo to help make Texas settlers free!
Disney guy (looking rather flustered): Wow! You’ve done your research haven’t you?
Hailey:  You see all this? (waving her arm around at the canoes and the “frontierland”)  This is all a lie!
At this point, Chris and I were rolling with laughter.  Hailey was as serious as could be!  The poor Disney guy couldn’t say anything else.  I’m pretty sure he had never had a 10 year old tell him his job hocking Davey Crockett to the public was a total farce .
But it doesn’t end there!  Oh wait…there’s more!  As we got onto the canoe we were seated in the back.  The only person behind us was another cast member who was responsible for the rear of the canoe.  As we were paddling along, the gal up front kept talking about the frontier.  When we were about half-way along on our journey, Hailey just blurted out:
-This is ridiculous!  What in the world is this teaching people about David Crockett?  NOTHING I tell you!  Absolutely nothing!
The cast member behind us was hysterically laughing!  Thankfully only the couple of people in front of us heard Hailey.  In fact, the younger girl directly in front of me said “I don’t think that girl likes this ride very much!”
When we got off the canoe Chris and I could barely keep it together.  It was truly one of the most AWESOME moments of “No Filter” EVER!  I immediately called my dad at work to share the story with him.  After he finished laughing he described the moment perfectly.  He said “That is CLASSIC!”
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Make it great!

Disneyland Day 3

Yesterday we spent time in both parks riding the rides we either missed or wanted to ride again.  We of course had to ride both Soarin’ Over California & Big Thunder Mountain Railroad again (and again!).  Those were definitely our 2 favorite rides of the trip.  Chris and the girls also rode California Screamin’ and had a blast!  Chris is in the very back of the coaster and you can see Hailey on the very right side of the picture.  Skylar was behind Hailey & I couldn’t see her from the pier.

Hailey begged for a turkey leg so Chris obliged.  It was almost bigger than her head! I laughed at how angry she looks!

Hailey had a couple of bites & then Skylar got ahold of it & she devoured the rest.

We made an impromptu trip to the beach to watch the sunset & let the girls run around.  It was super chilly with the wind coming off the water.  As soon as we got there Hailey saw the seagulls & took off after them.  The action shots tell it all.

I love that she stopped, flashed a smile, laughed, & then kept on running!

Oh to have even a quarter of her energy would be awesome!

It was so cold, but the girls loved running all over the beach.

After our trip to the beach we went back to the hotel.  Chris went out to grab some food because the food court in the hotel closed early.  While he was gone, Hailey went to blow her nose and came out of the bathroom and said the following:

I’d like to know what kind of tissues the Hilton uses!  They are TERRIBLE!  Also….the beds aren’t comfortable, the pillows sink in, the restaurants close too early AND our room is FREEZING!  Oh yeah, the channels on the TV are totally out of order!

I immediately started laughing as I thought her little rant was hilarious!  She gave me the most horrified look & then burst into tears!  I was shocked!  She then said “I can’t believe you are laughing at me mom!  I am SO upset!”

And that ladies & gentlemen is when you know that you have officially had “too much fun” and that it is time to head home.

Thank goodness we will be home this evening with good tissues, her own bed, pillows that don’t sink in, a thermostat we can control, & a TV with the channels in the order she knows and loves.  PHEW!

Have a great day!


Disneyland Day 2

We spent Tuesday morning/afternoon at Disney’s California Adventure.  There was quite a bit of construction going on, but there was still a lot to do.  We actually split up immediately upon entering the park because Chris & Hailey wanted to ride the Tower of Terror & Skylar did NOT!  She has ridden it several times in the past but has decided that she will no longer ride it.

Loved this photo I snapped of them looking “terrified”!  Such sillies!

While they were riding that Skylar & I rode Soarin’ Over California…one of our faves! She squealed & laughed the entire time.  As we rounded the corner after that ride we ran smack dab into Handy Manny!  Skylar loves him!  She was by far the oldest kid waiting to see him, but I’ve learned not to worry about what others think.  I just want her to be happy.  I love the absolute joy that is radiating on her face!

Here is a photo of Hailey curled over on a bench following her ride on the Tower of Terror.  I kid you not when I say that she stayed like this for over 5 minutes.

Here she is once she came out of the fetal position!

Love this shot of my 3 favorite people with the cool ferris wheel in the background.

One of the rides that Skylar has talked about for days is the swings.  She loves them!  It is the one ride she insists on going on when we are at Navy Pier in Chicago.  Loved this shot of Chris & the girls waiting for the swings.

I also took a sequence of shots of Skylar swinging.

This next shot is my favorite…LOVE the angle.  I can already tell I’m going to want to enlarge this picture and add some text for our project life album.

After many hours of fun we headed back to the hotel to rest.  Skylar complained that her feet hurt pretty bad and she didn’t want to walk around the park again, so she and I went to see the movie John Carter at the theatre in Downtown Disney while Chris and Hailey went back and rode more rides in both California Adventure & Disneyland.  Both girls enjoyed their 1 on 1 time with each of us.

Today we will be riding the rides we have either missed or want to ride again.  Can’t wait to share our adventures with you tomorrow!

Make it a great!


Disneyland Day 1

Hello from the Happiest Place on Earth!  We are so thrilled & blessed to be here. Just wanted to share some of our favorite pictures from yesterday.

The trees are beautiful and this is truly a magical place!  The girls were tickled to see Cruella de Vil first thing when we walked in the park. She is so MEAN! It cracked me up that Skylar told her so!

There are a LOT of people here! Since Skylar has autism, we were able to get a special needs access card to use during our stay. It allows us not to have to stand in all the long lines. It doesn’t always mean that we walk right onto the rides, but allows us an alternate entrance/waiting area. The cast members here at Disney have been so wonderful with both girls! I’ve had to fight back tears many times!

The best way for us to ensure a successful day (wherever we are) is to “go with the flow”.  Chris and I have both learned that with our girls we try not to have a set plan. Skylar usually has a plan in her mind & we just go with it!  Sometimes that means going back & forth all over the park & that is ok with us.  We want this experience to be a great one for all of us!  We spent 6-7 hours yesterday at the park then came back to the hotel for a nap.  After that we decided to head back to the park for some more fun! After a few more hours Skylar announced “I’m ready for bed”.  We knew that we needed to head back soon to avoid a meltdown.

Chris & the girls went on Splash Mountain. I opted out as I did not want to walk around the park all wet. Thanks to a great zoom lens I was able to snap this picture as they came down.  If you look closely, Hailey is in the very front, Skylar is in the pink hooded jacket, & Chris is in the last seat.  This has to be one of my favorites! Totally cracks me up!

You are NEVER too old for the carousel!

Love their sweet smiles!

Hailey thought it was awesome that on the Storybook Land ride they let her sit on the front of the boat to be the whale watcher.

We had a fabulous day and are looking forward to spending today at California Adventure!  I have quite a few funny stories to share.  The lack of filter with a huge crowd of people has been hilarious! And it’s not just Skylar! 😉 We laughed non-stop yesterday!  I’ll be back tomorrow to share our favorite shots from today’s adventures!

Make it a great one!