2019 Holiday Recap

We did it! We survived the holidays. I absolutely love the holiday season, but being totally honest, I’m always a little relieved when it is over. Especially with kids, Christmas is SO MUCH FUN, but it is SO MUCH WORK. Since I’ve been crazy busy over the past few weeks and haven’t had time to share much, I decided to do a little holiday recap blog post. Keep reading to learn a little more about Christmas with the Donnell family.

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Finding Snow in Flagstaff

One of my favorite parts about living in Arizona is our ability to drive to snow when we want to, but return home to 60 degree temps in the desert. Flagstaff is a 2 hour drive north of Phoenix and offers almost every winter activity out there. While we didn’t have enough time to hit up the Snowbowl ski slopes, we did find time to check out the Flagstaff Snow Park for tubing.

A few pointers on the Flagstaff Snow Park. Make sure to buy tickets in advance, as the snow park is not open everyday. Also, the park does sell out on busy weekends so make sure to plan in advance. However, all the tubes are provided and there are food trucks nearby to purchase snacks. Definitely worth the price of admission!

The real reason we went up north was to take the kids to The North Pole Experience. I’ve heard great things about this Christmas experience where the kids go through a magic portal and enjoy an hour or two in Santa’s workshop. They attended “elf school”, helped the elves build toys, enjoyed snacks with Mrs. Claus and met the big man in red himself. While Carter was 100% convinced he was still in Flagstaff, we all had a great time.

I will say the biggest mistake I made was not researching the actual location of the North Pole Experience (you start out at a hotel and are taken by bus to an offsite location) and the Flagstaff Snow Park. As it turns out, they are about 400 yards away from each other. Let’s just say it didn’t help convince my 7 and a half year old we were actually visiting Santa when he saw a handful of other buses driving through the magic portal. Both are great, but maybe don’t plan them as back to back activities. #momfail

Visiting family in Ohio and Michigan

Kurt and I have lived in Arizona for almost a decade, but my in-laws still live in the Midwest. We absolutely love going back to visit them over the holidays and spending some time where both of us grew up. This year, I was excited to partner with Mazda during our holiday trip and check out the 2020 Mazda CX-9.

I was lucky enough to test out the Mazda CX-5 during our fall break trip to Legoland, so it was pretty cool to drive it’s big sister over Christmas. I’ve actually been in the market for a new 3 row SUV and I was beyond impressed with the CX-9. The all wheel drive kept us safe, as the temperatures hovered near freezing, the trunk space was plentiful for our bounty of holiday suitcases and the technology was flat out impressive.

If I didn’t see the logo, I seriously would have thought it was a ridiculously expensive luxury car. The CX-9 has all the bells and whistles you can imagine (things like adaptive cruise control, seat belt monitors, Apple CarPlay, LED accent lighting and an impressive touch screen display). If you are in the market for a new family car, go test drive the CX-9. You’ll be surprised on how luxe it is!

Christmas at Home

We were able to plan our Ohio trip the weekend before Christmas and fly back to Arizona so we could be home for Christmas Day. We landed super early on Christmas Eve which gave us enough time to get a few hours of sleep, attempt to unpack and then get cleaned up for church.

After church, we had dinner reservations to go get Mexican food with my parents and check out the lights at the Fairmont Princess resort. The weather wasn’t ideal that evening (it rained most of the day), but it stopped for just long enough so we could enjoy some of the holiday light installations and ride a few rides. The good news is the Princess wasn’t crowded due to the weather so we didn’t have to wait in line. That alone was a Christmas miracle!

We spent Christmas Day at home in our jammies, opening presents, eating all the snacks and enjoying time together as a family. I went back to check my phone to see what photos I took on Christmas Day and there were barely any. I did my best to unplug and be present on that day, which I need to do more often. It was perfect.

Fiesta Bowl

Following Christmas, we spent the next few days visiting with my sister and her family who flew in to visit on the 26th. We were so excited when we found out Ohio State was playing Clemson just across town in Glendale at The Fiesta Bowl. We somehow found 11 seats together in the nosebleed section so we packed up our cars and put together a good old fashioned tailgate before the game. The kids played catch, we ate more snacks and enjoyed some old fashioned football fun. The Buckeyes sadly lost the game, but it was overall a wonderful day.

New Year’s Eve

Finally, we ended 2019 with a little kid-free get-together at our house with a few friends. We laughed like crazy, drank a little too much champagne and stayed up way too late. However, it was such a fun way to end the year enjoying the company of a few people we love the most.

With that, I’m calling 2019 a wrap. I’m still working on pulling together my 2020 goals and revisiting my progress on my 2019 goals. Stay tuned for more!


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