A while back, (months ago) we decided that we wanted to give Hallie an experience instead of the typical gift for her birthday. We live close enough to Disneyland that we gave her a day at Disneyland with just mom and dad. All attention would be hers as well as all the decisions.

We left the kids on Sunday after church with family. At this point Hallie had no idea what was in store for her. I made this fun scavenger hunt that ended with a bag of her clothes for our short getaway. We were so excited to give this to her and we were ready with the video camera in hand for her response…boy were we disappointed. She opened the door to find the bag and ticket and she smiled politely and said thank you. She sat down and kept looking at the bag but she was far from excited. She slowly took the tissue paper from the bag only to realize they were her own clothes. She glanced our direction and gave us a nervous smile. Steve and I look at each other in disbelief. This is not how I imagined this awesome unveiling to go down.

Steve started asking her questions and he quickly realized she had no clue what was going on. He asked her, “Hallie do you know what Disneyland is?” Hallie looked at us a little clueless…”no”. We were shocked. We had built up this moment so nicely with the assumption that she knew what Disneyland was and we were greatly mistaken. We had a good laugh and Steve started to describe all that Disneyland entailed. This is the look we got:

This was the conversation that followed:

Hallie: But today is Sunday

Us: We’re not going today, we’ll drive there today, check-in to the hotel grab some dinner and walk around.

Hallie: But tomorrow is Monday and I have school

Us: We’ve already talked to your teacher and she knows you won’t be there

Hallie: What about my piano lessons, did you cancel those?

Us: Yep, we sure did.

She was still a little skeptical but she went along with it, never truly acting excited for what we were about to experience.

We immediately hopped in the car and made the 6 hour drive over to California. We walked around Disneyland/Downtown and we could see the excitement within her start to build. Part of it was she had her parent’s undivided attention, the other part was the magic of Disney!

Because this whole trip was based around her birthday, she got a snazzy button that informed everyone she was a special birthday girl.

We went to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe and I’ve never seen her so excited in a restaurant. She loved the thunderstorm that swept through every 30 minutes and the rain constantly falling behind us. She even got a dessert with a candle and a birthday song from the staff. She was in 7-year-old heaven.

The whole evening was so relaxed and enjoyable; we could’ve ended the experience right there and come out ahead! But you don’t drive 6 hours each way for dinner and walking around so we decided we might as well go to Disneyland the next morning!

Going to bed that night, we finally had the excited little girl that we had looked for all day. There are few things more fun to watch than a child filled with excitement. Walking around that night did just the trick to build the anticipation.