`

The 12th Birthday Surprise

AE_SimonBirthday

On January 21st we celebrated Simon's 12th birthday with a small family gathering and the next morning I woke him up at 3:30am and told him we were heading to Disneyland.

Obviously we don't go this big every year for birthdays.

It was a last minute decision (well, a least a week before decision). A decision to do something silly and fun and spontaneous and special. Making it happen. While in Southern California the week before for the PLAY event and spending the day at Disneyland there seemed like nothing better than to organize a surprise one-on-one trip with Simon to head back down again.

He thought it was a pretty good idea too.

AE_AandS

I'm a big believer in one-on-one time. Obviously a trip is one thing, but even just an ice-cream date or a bookstore or any time spent when it's just two of us.

Growing up I got to take a few one-on-one trips with either my Mom or my Dad and it was always really special to have that time. I have a brother who is 15 months younger and a sister who is 4 years younger. Two trips that stand out include a trip to Hawaii with my Mom and Grandma and a trip to Japan with my Dad on a business trip when I was a freshman in high school.

This was Simon's second time at Disneyland.

AE_SimonDisney1

This time it was all about Star Tours and Cars Land.

He's a major fan.

We were there for two days and purchased Park Hopper passes so we could go back and forth between the parks. And as you'll see below, Aaron and his oldest son met us down there to help celebrate Simon's birthday trip. They were a great match in terms of interest and pace and they did some things on their own and we did some things on our own.

AE_Cars3

This was Simon's first time on the Cars ride and he was so, so excited. If you haven't had a chance to ride this one yet it's just so fun but the line is really long. We were able to get a Fast Pass on the first day to come back later in the evening and that made the line significantly shorter.

AE_Cars1

Then we discovered the awesomeness that is the Single Rider line which enabled us to ride a bunch of times in a row. With the single rider line there's definitely the chance that you won't ride together (we ended up in the same car with me in the back and Simon in the front a couple times and once in separate cars) but it makes it so you can get in more rides vs. waiting an hour in line (or more) for the ride.

AE_Cars2

Because we stayed at one of the Disney hotels we were able to enter Disneyland an hour early one of the mornings. A bunch of the characters were available right at the entrance when we came in and Simon wanted a photo with each. Loved having them all in one place like that.

AE_minnie

AE_Donald

AE_boys

AE_pluto

I didn't take too many photos this time. I did take my big camera but I mainly just used my phone to catch shots here and there.

AE_flags

The warm temperatures and the blue sky was an awesome change from the grey and fog we've been having here in Oregon.

AE_SimonSwim

And because it's California he got to swim at night.

AE_us

Love you Simon! So happy to celebrate you and all your awesomeness. Thanks for loving the magic too.

And just in case you are wondering, Anna stayed with Katie during this adventure. They had their own special one-on-one time that included a lot of playing "hair salon" and testing out make-up. Those two were kindreds from day one. She'll get her own one-on-one adventure in the future. 

Sign in or sign up to comment.

41 thoughts

  1. A. Sanborn says…
    02/03/2014

    What a memorable "tween" Cake N' Candle Day, Simon!

    Wishing you all the best and many more one on one memories ahead!

    Cheers...

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Silvia says…
    02/03/2014

    I remember you posting about the birthday surprise on Instagram, the night before. I wondered all day what his reaction would. Such a great surprise to wake up to. I remember holidays with my mom, and outings with my dad. It was always so fun to spent one-on-one time with them. It still is!

    Have a lovely week!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Paula says…
    02/03/2014

    What a special time together! I did the same with my son when he was in middle school, and this spring will go to Disney Hollywood Studios & Magic Kingdom with my daughter. You just convinced me to not give her the dates in advance and make it a surprise! Also, there is a new Disney hotel here in Florida that has a Cars theme in some of its rooms and in the court yard - it's called Art of Animation Resort - check it out :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. laura g. says…
    02/03/2014

    that is sooooo awesome!! Simon will remember this forever!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. P.J. says…
    02/03/2014

    What a HAPPY birthday with Mom! He'll remember this trip forever.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. michelle t says…
    02/03/2014

    I was so hoping you'd post about your adventure with Simon was wondering what you had planned. Loved seeing the photos. Looks like such an awesome time. Thanks for sharing your day. Michelle t

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Angie Hall says…
    02/03/2014

    This, my first read of the morning, made me smile! Happy birthday, Simon! You are blessed to have such a wonderful family.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. kelsey says…
    02/03/2014

    Man, he is getting tall. My son turned 12 yesterday. Missed doing something special this year but maybe next year for being a teen. Thanks for the idea!

    Happy belated birthday, Simon.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Michelle L says…
    02/03/2014

    Happy Birthday Simon!

    OUr one on one trips are usually for lunch or movies or something but this would be great!

    The first thing I noticed was Simon is taller than some of the characters! He is gonna be one tall handsome fella when he grows up! =)

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Lida says…
    02/03/2014

    The Best!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Jo-Anne says…
    02/03/2014

    Ah WOW looks like you had an AWESOME trip!

    Here's to many many many more fun, exciting trips in the future. Cheers:-))

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Ruth G says…
    02/03/2014

    How awesome was that?! Thanks so much for sharing. I've got tears in my eyes!
    Our last Disney vacation was not so great, especially for my autistic son. He was having a very hard time with the crowds, getting touched all the time. It's so nice that Simon had a great time for his birthday!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Ellie says…
    02/03/2014

    oh ali. i know this story is about simon, but your face in that last photo...that's the most genuine, playful, happy smile I've seen from you in a while. definitely a sign of thriving through play <3

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. J Allen says…
    02/03/2014

    My my Simon looks more and more like his Dad! Handsome boy ;) In about 6 weeks I will have my own 12 year old! yikes…

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Nadine says…
    02/03/2014

    OK, a couple thoughts here.

    First, love Anna's look of excitement as you're lighting the candles for Simon's cake!

    I remember how you surprised your children for their first trip to Disneyland with their cousins . . . so happy you could do it again with Simon. I am a big supporter of surprise visits, parties, etc. and think spur-of-the-moment fun is so awesome.

    My sister Chelle lives outside LA. I live in Ohio and my other sister is in Chicago. We want to surprise Chelle and end up on her doorstep for her 50th birthday - maybe a trip to Disneyland would be a cool event, even for us "old ladies"!

    Finally, Ali, so happy Aaron was able to join you with his son. Looks like you all have memories to treasure for years to come.

    Happy Birthday, Simon!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Debbie says…
    02/03/2014

    Ali,

    You are the coolest mom!!! Seeing you experience this with Simon makes me want to plan a surprise trip for my daughter! Love the photos of you in the car!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Rosa says…
    02/03/2014

    Ali- that is AWESOME!! Happy birthday to Simon! You are a fabulous mom! I so wish we lived semi-close to a Disney! Living in New England means having to fly anywhere... is it sad that my kids haven't been to Disney yet? :(

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Cynthia H says…
    02/03/2014

    So, so fun. Love it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Marie-Pierre says…
    02/03/2014

    This post gave me chills. It's all I can say. I'm happy for you too and I'm personally looking forward for more fun times with my girls. Working on being hands free more often.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Jenni Hufford says…
    02/03/2014

    what a fabulous trip!!! The ride photos are hysterical! love all the faces!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Praisley says…
    02/03/2014

    Parenting is such an artform requiring wisdom and a delicate balance. It wasn't until my daughter moved out and my son was grown that we got to spend one on one time together...but it was treasured even the more. Can't believe Simon is 12 years old...already. And Disneyland is always a winner!!! Looking forward to Anna's trip as well. PS: Wow, Ali. You are so very loved by so many people. Thanks for sharing...and may the Lord continue to pour out His many wonderful blessings upon your heart and upon your life!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Erika Beckwith says…
    02/03/2014

    What a great way to celebrate Simon's 12th birthday! Looks like you both had an awesome time.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. grace says…
    02/03/2014

    What fun! He has grown so much. Grace

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Debbie says…
    02/03/2014

    Awesome!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Marcia Soto Pirani says…
    02/03/2014

    Loved this post Ali! You are glowing, so truly happy to see you shine!

    Reply 0 Replies

Sign in or sign up to comment.