My Yearly Travels as seen through my Ornaments

I used to find it really hard to choose a special keepsake from each of our trips.  I loved so many cool “things”, but it just isn’t reasonable to get them all!  So a while back, I decided to get an ornament from each of our trips.

Every year, when we put up our tree, it is a wonderful opportunity to remember our travels and stories as a family.  It is something I treasure and our tree is really full of US.

Here are the ornaments I got this year.

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Paris. January 2019

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Disneyland Paris. January 2019

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Symphony of the Seas. February 2019

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February 2019

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Disney World. February 2019

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Tuscon Arizona. April 2019

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Tombstone, Arizona. April 2019

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Bearizona. April 2019

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Las Vegas, Nevada. April 2019

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O’hau, Hawai’i. October 2019.

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Strasbourg, France. November 2019

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Switzerland 2019

Throw Back Thursday….Growing up Disney

If you know me in real life, you now that if you start talking about Disney World, my eyes light up, my voice raises an octave and I talk 100 miles per minute because I LOVE DISNEY!!!!!  I know people who hate Disney and I am not sure they are human or believe in magic 😊  Seriously, though…I think you either love Disney or you do not…there aren’t many wishy washy Disney people out there!

When we plan our Disney trips (we go every 12-18 months), we start getting pretty psyched about a year out!  We start with the WHEN (we never go during school vacations or holidays), then move to the WHERE (we have stayed at Saratoga Springs, Bay Lake Towers, Animal Kingdom Resort, Coronado Springs, Old Key West, Art of Animation and the Polynesian).  We plan out which parks we will be at which days based on crowd projections, plan our dining experiences and fast passes when the time is right.  And then we wait – probably not so patiently – for our vacation to begin!!

I love helping my clients do all this planning as well!  It is a labor of love – as not all agents take on Disney, but I know it well and love to help bring the magic to others!  Every new trip presents a new point of view and new experience!  I have enjoyed this ritual trip with my family and have enjoyed how, at each stage of my kids’ lives, Disney brings another level of wonder and growth along with the crazy joy that is Disney!

Here are some of my favorite memories from some of our trips at Disney over the years.  This succession of memories are so precious to me!  They are experiences my kids will always remember as times spent with their parents, family and friends.  I hope as they become adults, they will also enjoy bringing their families to Disney and have the same fond remembrances that I do of my own childhood at Disney with my mom.  What an awesome gift!

PS – we ALWAYS wear matching/themed shirts and always will!  That is part of the fun!!

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I have a picture of my kids doing this SAME thing in London in 2013. It is fun to recreate special moments in different locations! EPCOT 2019

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Beef hot dogs. OK – well…what can I say?! We were at Disneyland Paris and needed a pick me up!!! 2019

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From the other side!!! Disneyland Paris 2019

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Finding Eva and Wally – pure joy!!!! Disneyland Paris 2019

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Gusteau’s!!! Disneyland Paris 2019

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Germany/EPCOT 2018

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Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Magic Kingdom 2018

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Cousin’s Trip – Animal Kingdom 2016

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Magical Christmas – EVERY year!

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Magic Kingdom 2017 – mom and dad’s second trip to Disney without kids!!!!

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France/EPCOT

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Sunset from the Contemporary 2019

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Our first trip to Disney as family. Magic Kingdom 2006

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Magic Kingdom 2006

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Magic Kingdom 2009

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Magic Kingdom 2009

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Polynesian Luau 2013

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Morocco/EPCOT 2015

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Hollywood Studios 2015

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Hollywood Studios 2015 (our favorite time of year to go to Disney is during the Holidays!

Top 10 Culinary Finds in Paris

Traveling with a rather picky 12 year old doesn’t really lead itself to a culinary adventure, but we did have a few of my Parisian favorites and a few standbys to get me through!

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10. At the airport upon our arrival, the child was starving! With a classic mixte brioche sandwich with ham and cheese and an eclair, we were ready to tackle the train to Paris!

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9. Beef hot dogs. OK – well…what can I say?! We were at Disneyland Paris and needed a pick me up!!!

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8. Speaking of Disneyland Paris…did you know they serve MEAT IN A CONE as a snack?

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7. Gelato. Need I say more?

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6. Coffee? Tea? Nope. Vin Chaud, or hot mulled wine. Only in Paris, people!!!

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5. Dinner our first night. While Charlotte enjoyed a hamburger (ugh!) I marveled at burgundy braised beef with shallots, button mushrooms, whipped potatoes and FOIS GRAS that absolutely MELTED in my mouth!!! I’m hungry now!!!

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4. Lunch for day 2 – a Hawaiian Poke Bowl! Confession – I do not even LIKE some of the things in this bowl – the avocado and mangoes in particular BUT…sitting outside in a Parisian cafe inspired me to try new things! It was delightful! I did NOT, however, eat the cilantro. I think it tastes like soap and you cannot tell me otherwise!! hahahaha

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3. Well, I am not generally a wine drinker but I was in PARIS!!! A glass of wine was a requirement. And they don’t have wine types that Americans are generally familiar with – no Chablis, Chardonnay and pino grigios on every menu. I cannot tell you what this one was named…but it was lovely!

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2. The Macaron. NOT a macaroon!!! The macaroon is made from coconut and generally does not have a filling. The French MACARON is wonderfulness in your mouth. A delicate dance of almond flour cookie shell and buttercream or ganache filling. Traditional French flavors include lavender, rose, pistachio, lemon and chocolate. If you haven’t ever tried this bit of magic in your mouth, check out La Maison Navarre in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. You will be delighted with authentic French cooking, macarons, crepes and the most amazing French Onion Soup on the entire planet!!!

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1. Last but certainly NOT least – my absolute favorite, most amazing French culinary staple….the crepe! And my crepe of choice is nutella and banana!! Every day/night of our visit involved at least one crepe! Our go-to crepe stand was just around the corner and was a part of an Gyro shop! The guys there were fantastic and I endeared them immediately with my elementary Arabic skills – we were fast friends and they were happy to see us daily!

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Our last crepe of the trip!!!! It was kind or our lunch that day!

 

I hope you enjoyed this picture journey of our culinary experience in Paris.  We weren’t fancy, but really enjoyed each meal we took together and really, isn’t that the point?

Top 10 Favorite Pictures from Paris

Many of you followed my fantastic mother/daughter adventure to Paris this January.  You can catch up on the highlights in my Travel Diaries, but I wanted to take a minute and post my favorite pictures from the trip.

I love so many things about travel, and one of them is making memories that turn into the stories of our lives.  Being able to share this special time with my daughter was precious in so many ways and I hope she will look back on it with as much fondness as I know I will!

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Our first selfie in Paris!

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I love Char’s look – so adorable!

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I didn’t know she stuck her tongue out until I looked at the pictures that night!!!

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I love this one with the Eiffel Tower in the background!

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What do you do with fresh snow in Paris? Build a French snowman at Notre Dame!

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The Eiffel Tower was closed due to the weather, but we scooted all the way there to take in the rare sight!

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Our last crepe! Nutella and banana, of course!

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What a beauty!

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Finding Eva and Wally – pure joy!!!!

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The first gelato of the trip! Kinda like the first gift of Christmas!

 

Disneyland Paris Top 10

As much as I am a self-described Disney FANATIC (nut job), this is my first trip to Disneyland Paris and I couldn’t be more excited!!  We started our day out early and took the train (RER A) to Disney – The train actually STOPS right AT Disney – as in, it’s the END of the line!!!  Perfect!!!

We got into Hollywood Studios early and hit the Remy Ride (I might be slightly obsessed with this movie – Ratatouille – if you’ve never seen it!!!) – it is very Harry Potter-esque (if I DARE put a Universal euphemism in the same sentence with a Disney ride) in its design and it was really fun!  We headed over to the Tower of Terror – that was fun and much the same as the ride in Florida, then we walked around a bit before heading to Disneyland Paris proper.

Here is where things got cool!  I don’t remember ever going to Disneyland in California – my mom said I went for my second birthday but I don’t even remember my 30th birthday so….there’s that!  Disneyland Paris is clearly Disney, but so different at the same time.  It was like the Twilight Zone of Disney – Disney in another dimension – Disney French-ified!  I read so many reviews before we went to prepare myself with strategies (we only had one day so we wanted to see it all), make sure we could work the system (old school fast passes with tickets) and know the must-sees!  Here are MY observations and Disneyland Paris Top 10….

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10. Generally, the food at Disneyland Paris leaves A LOT to be desired (and this was a big negative from all the reviews I read as well) BUT, they have meat cones!!! MEAT CONES!!! Need I say more?

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9. The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse has always been a favorite of mine – and imagineers did a great job at DLP as well – kind of incorporating elements of “Huck and Tom’s” adventure island in the mix – including caves, a rope bridge and lots of fun nooks and crannies to explore!

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8. Cafe au lait? Mais non! It isn’t coffee – it’s mulled win or vin chaud. Yes, please!

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7. Another fabulous reboot – It’s a Small World is wonderfully themed here at DLP – and what was the French take on America? Glitz and glamour of Hollywood, a settler driving a horse drawn cart filled with hay and kids and a football player dressed, strangely enough, like a Miami Dolphin!

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6. Sleeping Beauty Castle – this is really neat because you can go UP into the castle and enjoy the storyboard of Sleeping Beauty. There is a dragon who lives under the castle (but he was hibernating or being refurbished – one or the other) and this castle is decidedly PINK.

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5. Disneyland Paris is really known for its extensive theming and unusual characters. In fact, the longest line queues are to meet princesses and mice. Along with that, characters that are a bit less center stage really shine at DLP. We had fun tracking some of them down!

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4. Gusteau’s!!! This adorable themed area in Hollywood Studios was so like the movie and the ride was so fun – it easily made it into my top 5!!

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3. HYPER-space Mountain was SSSOOO cool!!!!! This has been re-imagined with a Star Wars theme and the ride itself was stellar!!! Three loops that did NOT make Char happy, but I loved them! This version of Space Mountain tops the Disney World version hands down!!!

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2. My family knows my first ride at Disney World MUST be Pirates of the Caribbean – and the Pirates Disneyland Paris style did not disappoint!! There were a couple unexpected water “falls” and the ride itself is longer, but many of the scenes were the same – so that authentic Pirates ride I have grown up loving really shone through! When we were in the ride, the animatronics speak French – Char said, “Oh, I forgot they would speak French”!

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1. Hands down, winner, winner chicken dinner – Big Thunder Mountain!!! Char and I loved this version of the classic ride! It is LONGER! It has way more cool twists and turns and the ride itself is on an island in a lagoon, so you have to travel underground for portions of the ride to get to the island! The whole ride was TOPS and we did it a couple times because it was so cool!

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Bonus!!! Experiencing Disneyland Paris with my girl!!!!

We really enjoyed our day at Disneyland Paris!  Disney did a wonderful job at maintaining the classic Disney feel while making this park wholly French at the same time!   We had the most wonderful experience and made some fabulous memories!!!  Until next time, Disneyland Paris – Au Revior!