today! mark and i take off for europe today! we'll spend christmas in paris and new year's in barcelona. (i dropped a little hint in date one's post!) we'll miss our families and christmas morning traditions, but this trip is sure to be thrilling and magical, and i'm so excited! a pretty amazing twelfth date of christmas, no? stories and photos when we return- you can count on it.
mark and i have never gone bowling together! in fact, neither of us remembers bowling at all in the last five years! so naturally, for our eleventh date of christmas we hit the bowling alley. we met there, right after work, since its close to my office. i really love meeting mark out for dates! it feels a little more romantic somehow, to spot him across the room and kiss hello. the alley was all spruced up for the holidays, and there was even a christmas party happening a few lanes over. we had the best time!! my bowling abilities proved strong as ever; i bowled a strike early on, then started tossing my 8-pounder directly into the gutters. we kept it real and ordered a pitcher of beer and high fived each other after any killer strike. i suspected that mark would be a great bowler and i was right! pretty sure he declared that he was joining a league 30 minutes into our date.
on our tenth date of christmas we found ourselves awake bright and early, waiting outside magic kingdom's gates just before their 8am opening. (that's sort of bananas for us, but our cheap orlando hotel room gnarled us out so bad that we wanted outta there quick. i should disclaim that i booked it.) here's what we learned--- listen up and listen up good. get to magic kingdom 20 minutes before they open. you'll get a primo parking spot and an actual seat on the monorail, and there's a little song, dance, and firework number counting down to the big moment. who knew?! it gets better. get there early and you will have your run of that park. mark and i scooted back to the brand new fantasyland and got right onto the new (like, opened last week new) ride without a wait. then we hit a bunch of other stuff that's always overrun with lines. the teacups! peter pan! mountains of the space and splash varieties! pirates! winnie the pooh? what the hell, we've never been able to get near it before! we did ALL of this, then shared a dolewhip for breakfast, all before 10am. it was seriously SO. MUCH. FUN. fitting a disney weekend into our busy december was a challenge, but i really wanted to see magic kingdom dressed up for christmas this year. so glad we did it, she did not disappoint.
my favorite part of christmas has always been the lights. i grew up "going to see the lights" every year, whether on foot around our neighborhood, or by car in pursuit of THE house that we read about in the paper (every city has one). i freaking love twinkle lights and i'm not embarrassed to admit it; they, along with fireworks and parades, still hold the same magic for me that they did when i was a kid. this year i've found myself living in a unique area. a grid of gated communities line our beach town- running the gamut from modest condos to bazillion dollar oceanside mansions- and it makes freely roaming to check out holiday displays a bit of a challenge. so for our ninth date of christmas, mark and i took those disney passes of ours back to orlando to see the osborne family spectacle of dancing lights inside hollywood studios. you guys. i cannot even tell you how exciting it was to walk through this! i think we were both blown away at how elaborate and massive the display was. (read the interesting story behind it all here!) every ten or so minutes the lights would blink and flash in time to a christmas song, and i about lost it when trans-siberian orchestra's christmas/eve sarajevo started. i was in my own nerdy christmas paradise. we spent over an hour here (they had wine!), and agreed the next morning that it was one of our favorite christmas dates yet! totally magical.
i'm a picnicker. i love to be outdoors on a beautiful day, and i really love to eat, so my affinity for picnics is a no-brainer. if you've read here long enough, you know i've sung picnics' praises many a time! for our eighth date of christmas, mark and i went on our first ever picnic together. i hauled the picnic basket out of the closet (the one M eyed wearily when i moved in eight months ago), and loaded it with snacks and silly patterns. we chose a great spot canopied by trees, right next to the intercoastal, and settled in for the afternoon. can you believe we were barefoot in the park in december?! this south florida no-season thing has its perks. i smiled to myself watching mark sip his root beer and read his paper; i think he was born to picnic too.