Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I had a wedding in Moab last weekend and decided to make a bit of a trip out of it. Ever since Brent and I went in 2007 I have been trying to get my dad down to see Arches. I knew he would love it. And I was glad when both he and my mom trudged down to Moab to see the sights. 

On the first day we did mostly nature walk type hikes, since I promised my mom that we wouldn't really be doing any hiking. I was super surprised at how quickly Stella took to the hiking. She loved it and was very interested in looking at the map and figuring out which hike was next. At the end of the day she called herself a "little hiking girl," and boy was she!

Our first stop was at Sand Dune and Broken Arch. I had been pointing out all of the rocks that looked like their namesakes, so when we first got out of the car, Stella saw a rock and named it "Turtle Rock" since it looked like a turtle. We even gave her a magic stick so that she could make it official. 

Sand Dune arch is a lovely site hidden in a crevice with tons of sand that Stella could have sat in and played with all day. Then we walked to Broken Arch. Every once and a while Stella would have to stop and play with the sand on the trail. She could not help herself!

We stopped for a picnic and then took a group shot at Skyline Arch. 
When Brent and I had visited before, we didn't make it to some of the arches, so I admit that they were a priority of mine. (I still have a few I have to see after two trips.) So we headed up to North & South Windows and Turret Arch.

Our last stop was Balanced Rock, which Stella was happy to point out to us every time that we drove past it. "There is Balanced Rock!" 

We then headed back to our condo so that Stella could get a swim in. We were tired from our hikes and so were ready to call it a day. Stella got her swim in and then we went to dinner. At dinner I was able to get everyone to commit to hiking the trail to see Delicate Arch. You can make it out from viewpoints, but it looks tiny from there, and I was determined (even though I am NOT a hiker) that I would see that arch. How can you go to Arches and not see the most famous arch in the whole wide world? And guess what? My little hiker was totally up for it, although she was sad that we were only going to be doing one more hike.

We got up that morning and I was thinking that I just wanted to pack up and go home, but I didn't admit it to anyone because it seemed that everyone was actually going to do it! It is about three miles in total, and it goes up and up and up. But Stella freaking rocked it out! She was happy and excited the whole way. She did get tired as we hiked the steep slick rock though, which she named "Tired Rock." Sometimes she needed a break or had to take small steps, but she never gave up. 

One of my favorite parts of the hike (and it is actually a lovely hike with lots of variety) was that Delicate Arch is hidden as you come around a corner, so it is like all of the sudden, BAM, there it is. And I was blown away when I first saw it. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. We took some time to be happy we made it, and then took some pictures. Be sure to notice how big the arch is. You can't really tell until you see the picture of me, dad, and Stella under it. I was so proud of my daughter, I can't even tell you. As we were walking up, people said that they would be surprised if she made it and she totally did. It surprised me too! I don't know where she got this love of hiking from, but it wasn't from her parents. The walk back down was much easier, but I was pretty worn out when we finally made it to the car and began our drive back to Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


We headed up to Idaho this weekend for Cy's birthday. He is 10! I hate it! Stella had an amazing weekend of course. I was thinking that she might look at all other parts of her life as dull and gray, and then when her boys are around her, she finds her life is in color again. She giggles and smiles and is pretty darn happy with her boys!

We arrived late Friday, so when Wyn woke up the next morning, he asked: "Is Stella here? She's my best friend." Aw...

They played dress up, made a slide down the stairs, played house outside, and just had fun every second. Our visit was too short, but we had a great time. Be sure to check out the pictures of the earrings Catcher made for Stella...aren't they beautiful? :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012


It is so hard to come home from a trip like we did last week and then have to sit and write all of the fun things down. I want to remember it all and when I sit to work on the pictures, I just feel overwhelmed. I've also been sick and crazy busy since we got home. But it is finally time to get this post up and running!

Stella and I had the best time on our Disney Cruise. Before we left we got a call from Mickey himself! He was just letting us know that he was excited for us to come on his cruise. I really wasn't sure what to expect, but the entire trip exceeded any expectations I had. I love me a cruise and I love me some Disney so all in all it was just too much fun.

Even though Stella has been on a cruise before, this might as well have been her first since she didn't remember the other one, and she loved it.

Saturday morning we got up, got ourselves on the ship, and checked out our room. Stella called her daddy to tell him that we had made it. Then we headed up to the top of the ship for lunch and our first ice cream cone. (Constant access to ice cream is a must on any cruise.) Before we knew it we were sailing away.

We went to dinner that night pretty tired and kind of grubby, but Stella was still able to start her special tradition of ordering a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar for dessert. I freaking love these things and at Disneyland/World they cost like $6. So Stella was loving life.

When we got back to our room to see our towel animal my mom and I were discussing what it was--Mom: "Oh look, a snail!" Me: "Mom, it is a snake, obviously." Stella: "You guys, it is a towel." Oh, we laughed and laughed.

Every night you get a chocolate on your pillow and of course it is of Sleepy. The chocolate isn't good, but I sure thought it was cute!

Stella and I were up late that night even though we were both knackered. The time change messed us both up to the point that we found ourselves trying to find late night snacks at 11AM. I wanted a cookie and was told the only way to get one was to order room service. So I did--two cookies actually--as well as a tomato and basil panini. That was the beginning of my official descent into gluttony that continued throughout the week.

The next morning we dragged ourselves out of bed so Stella could make it to her Peter Pan party. The kids' club is obviously Disney awesome and they have the funnest stuff for kids like parties with characters. After the party on our way to lunch, we ran into Alice and Peter so we got some pics.

It was a windy day, and we mostly relaxed. But Stella did manage to attend her Snow White party and also go for a swim with Grammy. She also got plenty of practice with our cell phones. Disney likes everyone to have them so that they can know where you are at every moment ("Control the people" is an unofficial Disney tagline I invented just now.) Well, Stella loved using her phone to call her grandparents who were next door. Also by the end of the cruise she could dial their number on our regular phone quicker than I could.

That night was formal night and Stella chose her Cinderella dress for the evening. We went to a Cinderella show (which she loved) and after that we saw Minnie and Mickey in their formal wear. Then we enjoyed dinner after which we met Daisy and Donald.

One of the things that charmed me the most about the cruise is how they have the characters just walking around all the time and you can see and talk to them (especially if you are 4 and cute like Stella), and that night Stella was able to chat with Belle.

The next day was also a glorious day at sea. We got up that morning to wait in line and see the princesses! They do this on two different days and the line is very long both days. But if you've been to Disneyland/World you know you can wait in a very long line to meet a princess and so it wasn't so bad. Stella was spoiled with an autograph book from Grammy and Papa, and she loved getting autographs. It was all very official. She had something important to tell each princess and she loved their reactions.

Also, after seeing all the princesses this lady came up to Stella calling: "Princess! Princess! May I have your autograph?" And so Stella signed her book. It was so cute!

We didn't do much that day except Stella played at her group, I read, and Stella and I hung out at the pool. Soon it was time for our third dinner, and we already felt like we had had a pretty great trip. Then we ran into Mickey on the way to our room and Stella got a big hug from him. Maybe he thought she was his girlfriend since she was wearing her Minnie dress. :)

That night we put on our PJs (which--I am not going to lie to you--is what I am usually wearing most of the day on a cruise), and watched Brave in the movie theater. You might expect little sleepy Stella to fall asleep during the movie, but I knew she wouldn't and she didn't. She loved it.

Tuesday was our first day at a port. We were in Grand Cayman and it was a freaking stunning day. First off, I had to get a picture of my completely asleep Stella. I know she is out for the count if I am up and moving around and she doesn't even know it. I guess the late night movie took a lot out of the kid.
We spent the day at the beach. I don't remember for sure, but I believe the last time Stella was at a beach was when we were in Hawaii and she got wave-attacked with Grammy and feared for her life. That was two years ago. She loved the waves and sand this time. It was a hot one that day.

That night was pirate night on the ship. So we looked all pirate-ish. After dinner we made our way to the pool deck for the pirate party and fireworks. The characters came and danced with us and Mickey flew through the air and fireworks shot up in the sky. It was typical Disney awesome.

Wednesday we were at Costa Maya, which is a fake port place created for tourists. (I'd been there before on my bachelorette cruise.) It is a great place to take a tour of the Mayan ruins, but since my parents like to do things off the beaten path we rented a golf cart to take us into the "town." It was very interesting actually, because for all the times I have been to Mexico I don't think I have ever really seen a place that isn't touristy Mexico. The pictures I took aren't great because we were constantly on the move in our cart. Stella got really good at helpfully telling Papa when a taxi or car was coming up behind us while I was distracted. I told her we were in the jungle like where Dora lives and she asked: "Where's Boots?"

It is a long walk back to the ship from the beach so they have a little train for all the elderly. Stella HAD to ride on it because it looked so fun to her. She was happy when she was finally able to get on for her ride.

That night was the most magical Disney night of my life, even though most of the magic happened to Stella. I'll never forget it, and I was crazy wishing I had brought a video camera.

Before dinner we saw Captain Mickey and got his autograph.

Stella wore her Belle dress to the Belle restaurant. When she walked in she said that it was just like when Belle walks down the stairs to dance with the Beast. She picked up her dress and a very nice waiter bowed and took her cute.

All through dinner Stella was talking like Belle with her Belle voice. It was basically like I was having dinner with Belle and not Stella. I am sure some kids do this kind of stuff all the time, but Stella rarely pretends to be someone else, and she really stuck to it. Our waiters LOVED Stella especially our head waiter Sam. He would always get her food not on the menu and do all sorts of magic tricks for her. That night he made her a rose that she didn't put down for a second!

Now here was where the night got freaking awesome, and I am not ashamed to tell anyone that I came close to tears of happiness like ten times. So we are eating in the dining room and we see all this commotion with Minnie and Goofy out in the lobby. Of course, Stella wants to check it out, but I wanted her to eat her dinner first. But then I realized that this opportunity could not be missed--she needed to go out and play.

Minnie and Goofy were playing Duck-Duck-Goose with the kids, and Stella joined in. They also played Hide 'n Seek and Red Light, Green Light. Stella was running around holding Minnie's hand for like a half and hour. Now, for a girl (me) who has been to Disney World I don't know how many times,  I only saw Mickey like half of those times, including the times that I waited in line to see him at his house or watched a parade. So I know how RARE it is for a child to be able to do something like this. When it was all over Minnie hugged and kissed Stella several times. I mean, COME ON! HOW COOL IS THAT!? I found out later that they almost never play games with the kids. Usually they just wait in line for pictures at that time, but it was quiet enough that night to allow for some games with a few lucky kids. So fun.

And the fun didn't stop there, as soon after, Stella was able to see Pluto, and then Belle was walking around in her blue dress reading stories to the little girls. She was sitting by the stairs with some girls as we were making our way to bed and she said to Stella (in a Belle voice of course): "Would you like to join us with the story? I've only just begun." And she did. So ADORABLE.

At this point I was completly charmed by the whole cruise and thought it was almost too much magic for one special little girl. I wish I had video taped ALL of it.

But the magic doesn't stop there folks...

Thursday was Cozumel. It started out rainy, but the sun did eventually come out for us. We headed in to town. We did typical Cozumel shopping stuff. My mom bought her drugs, she spent money at the silver stores like silver was the most precious metal in the world, and we got our free charms from each of the stores. Stella wanted to take a horse-and-carriage ride back to the ship, so of course we did.

When we were back on the ship, we went to do princess crafts while Grammy and Papa took lunch out on the veranda. (I did as well--let me tell you it is the height of cruise living to eat food on your deck!) While I was eating my lunch Stella was at story time with Belle.

Stella was in a very fun mood that night.

Now, I am pretty sure Stella is my child. I mean I saw her right after she was born, and although I was surprised to have such a perfect looking newborn I felt pretty sure she was mine. Either way, over the years I have grown to love her no matter what. But this night Stella proved to me and the world over that she was indeed MINE, because, folks, she did karaoke with me and she freaking ROCKED IT!

We sang "Short Skirts," which is what Stella calls Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me." She sang and danced and wowed the crowed and her mother. At the end she got a standing ovation with cheers and screams. She looked at me and said: "I wanna do it again!" and I knew right that second 100% for sure that she was MY baby!

Our last full day was at sea. It was also our morning for the character breakfast. At this point I didn't think we needed yet another character sighting, but were we gonna miss it? NO WAY!

Stella spent the rest of the day at the pool. By that point, I had caught whatever illness Stella had earlier that week, so I was a little out of it, but I still managed to make it out to the pool to get her picture, and to take some fun pics of the ship.

That night Stella got her last spaghetti dinner and I finally got one of the Mickey ice cream bars from the kid's menu that I had been eyeing all week. It was delicious!

We still needed Daisy & Donald's autographs so we went to the final character appearance in the lobby. Stella managed to avoid Captain Hook and to get all of her autographs. Soon she was in bed meeting Mickey and Minnie in dreamland.

Before the cruise, Stella's only real concern was NOT seeing Captain Hook. I think overall this oh-so-magical adventure exceeded all of her expectations.