Christmas time is hands down my favorite time of year. From decorating the tree, to seeing all the lights, to baking up a storm in the kitchen – I just love all of the traditions that fill my calendar up every December. Last year I had the opportunity to introduce the season to my daughter for the first time, and it was truly a magical experience. But now that’s she’s a little older, and a bit more interactive, it’s even more fun this year. She may not quite “get” everything yet, but at least I’ll have some stories to tell for years to come.
Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to:
When we became members at the local zoo a few months ago, one of things I was really excited about was that the membership included free entry to Christmas in the Wild, Lowry Park’s annual Christmas event. Derek and I had attended what was then called “Wild Wonderland” at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo back in 2012 and absolutely loved it. The zoo did a great job with the lights and there were enough activities to keep two kid-free adults entertained.
I was really looking forward to returning for the Christmas event this year and introducing Annalynn to all of the lights and fun activities. Unfortunately the trip didn’t go exactly as planned.
I guess the name change wasn’t the only big change to the event. While holiday lights were still a good portion, they were no longer the main focus of the event. I’d say there were about half the amount of lights on display than what we saw in 2012. There wasn’t a tunnel of lights, no crazy displays that took over whole sections of the park, and nothing that really warranted the need to stop and take a photo. I had been talking up the lights, and was disappointed they no longer had the “wow” factor I remembered. They also removed the carnival-type area with fake snow, slides, and other games. There was a new Santa area that looked promising, but the line was a little too long for us to wait with a one-year old.
Despite my overall disappointment in the event, Annalynn still had fun. She loved seeing the animals, riding the train, and doing all of her favorite zoo things.
Christmas at Walt Disney World
I try to make it to Walt Disney World at least once every Christmas season to see the lights, decorations, and everything else that the holiday season entails at Walt Disney World. This year my sister and I turned the annual visit into an impromptu sisters-and-cousins trip. We booked a last-minute hotel room at the Art of Animation (I called on Friday night to make the reservation for Saturday) and we met at the park on Saturday night – gotta love living in Florida and the ability to make last minute plans at Disney!.
Our original plan was to see the new Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Show at Hollywood Studios, but we missed the only show of the night by about 15 minutes. So, plan B, we quickly turned around and headed to Magic Kingdom to see he castle all lit up in lights. I had Annalynn and Kelly brought Owen.
Of course, by the time we made it to the park, it was way past Annalynn’s bedtime and she promptly slept through most of the evening’s festivities. However, Owen had a blast. He’s really into holiday lights right now and kept pointing at everything saying “wow!”
Annalynn did rally the next day for Animal Kingdom.
Did you know Westfield malls now offer a fast pass option for Santa? Umm… yes, please.
Derek and I had no intentions of waiting in an hour+ line to see Santa with a one-year old, so when we heard about the fast pass, we immediately took advantage of it. All we had to do was pre-pay for a photo pass on the website and show up at our designated time. We still had a 10 minute wait, but not the hour+ we would have had without the Fast Pass.
Annalynn was less than fond of the big man in red than she was the year prior. We didn’t even attempt putting her on his lap and fed her graham crackers to try and distract her. I think she was more angry about being forced to sit still than to continue to run around Santa’s Village as she had just been doing minutes prior.
Daycare Holiday Program
We were two proud parents watching Annalynn perform in her first holiday program at daycare this year. Her class “sang” Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and were absolutely adorable in their homemade reindeer antlers. Annalynn didn’t cry, kept her antlers on, and stayed seated the whole time – I’d call the show a success!
Felt Christmas Tree Craft
The Felt Christmas Tree was a Pinterest craft I’d had my eye on, but wasn’t 100% convinced it would actually work. Then we visited a friend’s house who had one set up for their little boy and Annalynn was obsessed with it. I was at JoAnn Fabrics the very next day loading up my cart with colorful felt. Derek freehanded the tree (and did an amazing job!) and I used cookie cutters as my stencils for the ornaments.
Annalynn loved the surprise and we’re looking forward to bringing the tree to my parents’ for Christmas eve.
Decorating Christmas cookies is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I was really looking forward to introducing this one to Annalynn and prepped everything during her nap. I had the cookies cut, baked, and cooled. When she woke up I laid out the icing and the sprinkles, with this fantasy of her standing on a chair and assisting me. Ha!
I put her on my lap and she seemed more interested in eating the cookies than decorating them. She grabbed a giant one to eat, which gave me about 5 minutes of her observing what I was doing. Of course, as soon as the cookie disappeared (and I didn’t let her have another one), she was done with cookies. Well, we tried. And the good news is she really loved gingerbread cookies (as do I).
Now the real fun begins. I can’t wait for my favorite tradition of all – watching her open presents on Christmas morning!