The time I took my kids to Disneyland.

We’ve been home from California for over two weeks, and I haven’t blogged about it yet. It’s shocking, I know. Or maybe it isn’t, considering what a lazy blogger I’ve been lately. There are reasons, which I may getting around to sharing eventually, but they don’t belong in this post.

Disneyland! The happiest place on earth is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year – the Diamond Celebration. This had no real bearing on my deciding to take the trip, but it sure was a wonderful added bonus. When I visited Disneyland back in January, every third thought in my head was how I wished my kids could see this, or that, or that really cool thing over there! As the end of the school year began to get closer, I decided to go for it. I found a pretty good price on airfare, a great travel agent rate for the room, and we used the discounted passes we’re able to purchase. This was a solo-parent adventure. I probably would not have attempted Disney World in Florida without a second adult. Even as many times as I’ve been, I think that would be overwhelming. But in California, everything is so close together. I knew if anyone began to melt down, we could be back in our hotel room within 20 minutes.

We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. Within minutes of entering the lobby, we found Goofy wandering around. Our room was lovely, and I was super excited that our “pool view room” also had a view of Downtown Disney and the parks (way off in the distance). The kids got very excited about all the Disney touches in the room – Mickey’s hands holding the lights in the bathroom, the stars and hidden Mickeys in the carpet, and of course, the light-up castle above the beds.

We spent our first day at Disneyland Park. We got off to a rocky start, choosing to ride Pinocchio’s Daring Journey first after discovering that Peter Pan was still closed for refurbishment. I hadn’t ridden it recently enough to remember that it’s kind of dark and scary. Neely decided she was terrified of this and most everything that *might* go through the dark…which is everything. She also refuses to ride anything goes fast, so this rules out a lot. We still had plenty to do, but it was frustrating not being able to take my boy on things he wanted to ride. Neely decided that she wanted to collect autographs on this trip, so that was a fun change. Another inexpensive souvenir we decided to collect are souvenir pennies. We brought along a roll of quarters and a roll of pennies, and the kids’ job was to be on the lookout for penny machines each day. They loved this! I loved it, since many of the gift shops have the penny machines inside. The kids were so focused on getting their penny, they didn’t beg for everything else they saw.

We also watched the new Paint the Night parade on this day. People start camping out and staking their spot FOUR HOURS EARLY. I could hardly believe it. We found our spot closer to half an hour early. It wasn’t the best. It was standing-room only, but it could have been a lot worse, too. Most of the folks around us were pretty understanding and let the little ones squeeze up closer to the front, so they could see.

Day Two – California Adventure. We managed to coerce Neely onto the Radiator Springs Racers and Soarin’ Over California. I may have lied once (we’ll have them put us in the “slow car”), and I had to promise extra rides on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree to convince her to cooperate. And no, she’s not the type to get off a ride and decide she was wrong about it. She definitely stuck to her guns. If she was going to hate it, she hated it. We had a fun day, anyway. Both kids ate their very first churro. They even asked if they could have one for breakfast the next day. Ha!

Also, the World of Color show…incredible. We had a World of Color dinner package at Wine Country Trattoria. The dinner was delicious, although I wish I’d asked for a patio seat. We were there at 5:00pm, just when the Pixar Play Parade was passing by. If we’d been seated outside, we could have had an awesome view from the restaurant. With dinner, we received tickets to a reserved viewing area for that night’s World of Color show. It was completely worth it to me not to have to stake out a spot super early. We walked right in to the perfect spot to watch. The lights, the water, the color…I loved it all.

The last day was spent mostly back at Disneyland, but we did hop over to California Adventure for a bit, too. I love that you can walk out of one park and into the other within minutes. I also rented a cabana by the pool for our last afternoon…

It’s quite possibly one of the best decisions I ever made. If you’re at a Disneyland resort in June, don’t expect to find a chair anywhere close to the pool, or in the shade, by mid-afternoon. I’m so glad we had this waiting for us. The cabana has a sofa and loveseat inside, along with a TV, mini-fridge, ceiling fan, and safe. There are two lounge chairs at the front with an umbrella as well. At the Disneyland Hotel, the Tangaroa Terrace restaurant services the pool. We had our own attendant and were able to order drinks and food without leaving the comfort of our cabana. For a Mama who has been hauling little ones around on her own for three days, this was heavenly.

All in all, we had a great time. We never really saw the special fireworks show for the Diamond Celebration. They were canceled a couple of our nights because of high winds. There were fireworks on the night we watched World of Color. We saw some of them as we walked back to the hotel afterward. The kids were satisfied seeing them that way, so I don’t feel like missing them was a huge deal. I’ve got my Disney fix for a little while, but I definitely think we need Dad along to help next time. :)

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Oh, May.

 

Some days, I feel like we’re in the home stretch, and other days, I wish it were still March. My kids have 19 school days left this year. I’m not sure why I do this year after year, but I wait until there are only a few weeks of school left to start doing things like go to the dentist, get my hair cut, have my eyes checked, go to the doctor, etc. It’s like all of a sudden, summer break isn’t some dreamy idea far off in the distant future. It’s barreling at me fast, and I have to accomplish all of these things that are much better done without children in tow. I checked “dentist” off the list today. Yeah, me!

On top of all these extra tasks I’ve saved up for myself, there seem to be all kinds of things suddenly going on at school – muffins with mom, donuts with dad, field day, teacher’s appreciation week, Neely’s kindergarten program… somewhere, somehow, I’m supposed to manage all the regular life stuff, too.

I know I need to suck it up and stop whining. I don’t really want to look back and check, but I’m fairly certain my last 17 blog posts are about how overwhelmed I am. Nobody feels sorry for me. I know that, because I’m pretty sure a lot of us are riding in the same boat.

What I’m beginning to realize is this…

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It’d be nice if it were socially acceptable for me to rage out and smash things when I start to feel the walls closing in. I’ll have to stick with happy hour Fridays on the block for now. ;) I’m going to survive the month of May. And after I do, I’m going to Disneyland.

For real.

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What’s new in North Dakota…

Y’all, I am a terrible blogger. I hardly ever remember to write. I have been so wrapped up in learning to balance my new schedule with work and family and just normal life in general that I’m afraid I don’t have much interesting to say.

Then again, maybe it will be interesting…to somebody.

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The last time I wrote, I was not in a great place. I’d completely upended my schedule to fit in more workouts and try to prep meals for the week all at one time. And feed my children completely separate meals. I’m really glad I didn’t just give up. I knew there was a solution, a way to balance everything and make it work. I just had to find it!

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Step one: Quit trying to pre-cook a week’s worth of meals. This works for some people. For me, it just…doesn’t. If I’m going to be in the kitchen cooking the kids’ dinner, I might as be well cooking mine and John’s simultaneously. I enjoy taking a break from the computer to stand in the kitchen and prepare a meal at the end of the day. I needed to take that time back. As soon as I did, I started to feel less overwhelmed. It also gives me the freedom to change up our proteins and veggies in the evening if we’re not “feeling” the basics in our original meal plans.

Step two: Take a deep breath and ask your trainer how to combine workouts and cut back on the gym time a little bit. I originally had a workout on my calendar every day of the week but Sunday. I managed it the first week, but I felt like I was neglecting other areas of my life to be at the gym. Now, I weight train three days a week, and I still try to fit in cardio every day but Sunday. I’ve stopped guilting myself to death when I can’t manage everything, though. Sometimes, things happen and I don’t make it. I’m learning to regroup and reboot the next day.

Step three: Remind yourself that you work from home. You make your own schedule. It doesn’t matter if you are getting most of your work done in the afternoon, because the gym is less crowded in the morning. You’re getting your work done!

All in all, I’m feeling much better and very satisfied with how things are going now. I’ve re-learned how best to feed myself, what to feed myself, and when to feed myself. I’ve lost a little bit of weight, but more importantly, I’m super happy with my progress photos. I don’t know that I’ll ever be brave enough to actually share them, but this mama will not be afraid of her swim suits come summer.

The best thing is – now that I’ve gotten into a rhythm, I am confident that I’ll be able to continue down the right path with my diet and exercise. Tiffany has made my goals feel very attainable. I am working hard, but I don’t feel like I’m hurting my body to get results (ex. starvation-type diets). She’s even going to give me a separate meal plan for when I decide to start training for another run.

If you are looking for a personal trainer with a great program, Tiffany is awesome! Here’s her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/crzyfit

We’ve been doing her 6-week online program. You can do it from anywhere!

Snowy Sunday

It’s a snowy Sunday here in North Dakota, so I’m writing because I don’t have much to do today. Alright, that’s not necessarily true. I have laundry to do. I could pick up around the house. I could reorganize my closets. A more accurate statement would be that there isn’t much around here that I want to do today.

The last couple of weeks have been busy! Usually, this time of year drags by, so this seems kind of strange. We’ve started a new nutrition and exercise plan (with a personal trainer!), so a lot of my time and energy lately has been focused on learning better eating habits and making time to go to the gym.

Normally, I’d be on a treadmill three, maybe four times a week. Last week, I was at the gym 6 out of 7 days, doing weight training in addition to cardio. It’s definitely an adjustment. A good adjustment, but it definitely takes a conscious effort right now. I’m sure it will become habit within a few weeks and won’t feel so weird, but I’m not there just yet.

The meal plan is something else entirely. Right now, we’re pretty much repeating the same meals every day. I’m learning how to prepare things ahead of time, so we can grab them and eat what we’re supposed to without thinking about it. This has been the bigger challenge for me. I really prefer to cook meals that the whole family can eat, all at the same time. My kids are not on board with what John and I are supposed to eat, though, so I feel like I’m making 15 different meals each day. If we had a second refrigerator, I might have room to stockpile the way I’d like to. As it is, I seem to be spending a little bit of time each day prepping one thing that will last for a few days. Then, I’m making something extra for the kids each night for dinner. I’ve tried to time things so we can at least all sit down together with our respective meals. I hope I get all of this figured out soon. It is pretty exhausting.

That, my friends, is all for now. No photos. Nothing truly exciting. I just needed to run my mouth for a minute. ;)

Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Recap

It’s kind of fun to be involved in the “inaugural” anything, but the very first Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend was super cool. There were a lot of firsts for me this weekend. It was the first time I’ve been to Disneyland since I was a kid, so there were a lot of Disneyland-related firsts. (I’ll share my general Disneyland experience later.) This was also the first time I’ve participated in one of runDisney’s challenges. I’ve been watching Internet friends run a gazillion miles back-to-back for a few years. I guess I got a wild hair and thought I’d see if I could survive that kind of torture, too.

First up – my first Disney 10K! I’m honestly surprised I finished as quickly as I did. I arrived mid-afternoon on Friday, picked up my race packet, hung out at the pool, and enjoyed dinner at Steakhouse 55 before an early bedtime. I hadn’t been in either of the parks yet. My head was on a swivel the entire time, trying to see as much as I could as I passed through. That pic in front of the ferris wheel? First time I’ve ever seen it! California Adventure didn’t exist the last time I was at Disneyland.

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I am extremely happy with my results. I tried to be conscious of the fact that I’d be running the half marathon the next day, so I wouldn’t completely burn myself out. I think I managed that fairly well.

On the way back to the hotel, I happened upon a familiar face…

…and then this happened. #rundisney #rebelchallenge #gooniesneversaydie

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I saw others stopping for a pic with him, and I very nearly passed on by, not to be a nuisance. I changed my mind at the last minute, though. I knew nobody would believe me otherwise, least of all my husband. ;) Thanks for stopping and helping me take this selfie, Sean Astin. You’re the best!

The next morning, we were out of bed early to run the half marathon. (But not nearly as early as I have been for races at WDW. Staying on property and walking 10 minutes to the start line was the best decision we could have made!) I wasn’t nervous per se, but I had very low expectations for my finish time. I usually give myself a couple of rest days before a long run. My legs felt good post-10K, but I wasn’t sure how things would go down. I should have practiced running back-to-back. I intended to. I never did it, because training over the holidays? It just didn’t happen.

The course was really different than any other Disney race I’ve run. Shortly after mile 4, we were completely finished running through the parks. The rest of the race took us through the streets of Anaheim. I don’t have a problem with this personally. There were people along the entire course cheering us on – local marching bands, cheerleading squads, people who wanted an excuse to dress up in Star Wars costumes, etc. People amp me up, so this totally works for me. For those who are used to running Disney World and want Disney in their face the entire time? Disappointment city.

At the 10K mark, I noticed I was running considerably slower than I had the day before. It took my legs a lot longer than usual to warm up. I put a lot of effort into those first 5 miles or so. I managed to pull out a PR by the end somehow. I beat my best time (that half in September that I didn’t train for) by a full minute!

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I only stopped once, for a photo with a couple of storm troopers. Most of the character lines were crazy long. I skipped over them. I wanted to get done, so I could go play at Disneyland! I did stop my Garmin while I waited and took this photo, though. My actual run time according to the watch was closer to 2:18. When I finished my first half marathon in 2:37 almost four years ago, I never could have imagined that would be anywhere in the realm of possibility.

All in all, this was another good runDisney weekend for me. It redeemed my Wine & Dine Half Marathon experience completely. The only thing that I wish was different are the Coast to Coast Challenge rules. To earn a Coast to Coast medal, you have to run a Disney race on each coast in the same calendar year. There were only two months between the two half marathons I participated in, but since they were in 2014 and 2015, no Coast to Coast medal for me. :( The only race left that I could run in Florida in 2015 is Wine & Dine, and the memories are a little too fresh for me to want to go back for that one again so soon.

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I’m going to Disneyland!

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Y’all, I will be running this race in one week. ONE WEEK. I haven’t made it through all of my Christmas photos, or put away my decorations (if I’m honest, this is completely normal, though), and we just finished unpacking the last of the suitcases and gifts from Christmas break today. But in a few short days, I’m off to California!

I’m excited, but the timing makes me question my own judgment. It’s a good thing I didn’t try to go to Florida for the WDW Marathon Weekend. I’d have been a hot mess. As it is, I’m still trying to put together costumes and figure out what I need to pack. Have you ever tried packing for sunny and 75 when it “feels like” -20 degrees outside? Because it’s weird. I apologize in advance to Anaheim and the greater Los Angeles area for the blinding whiteness of my skin. It hasn’t seen sunshine in a while.

This will be my first trip to Disneyland since 1996. A lot has changed since then. Namely, there are two parks now instead of just the one. The Indiana Jones ride was brand spanking new when I went. Now, kids are like, “Indiana who?”

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I just can’t wait to see California Adventure, Cars Land, stay at a Disneyland hotel for the first time in my life, take a zillion pictures on my phone, etc. :) You’ll hear more about it than you ever wanted to when I get home, I’m sure. Maybe I’ll try to squeeze in my Christmas pics before then.

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More GoPro – Magic Kingdom

I’ve finally finished putting the rest of the GoPro videos from our Disney trip together. We spent our last day in the Magic Kingdom, and we went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party that night. It was a lot of fun. Enjoy the video!

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Disney 2014 – Hollywood Studios

I put our Hollywood Studios day into a video. I stayed in the park all day, the day after the race. I’m either a crazy person, or those compression sleeves I wore for 24 hours straight are magical! Maybe a little of both.

Tip: If you’re visiting Disney World and didn’t manage to pull off the FastPass to meet Anna & Elsa at the Magic Kingdom, take your Frozen lover to the sing-along at Hollywood Studios. It was my daughter’s favorite part of the trip!

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Race Day – Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2014

Saturday. Race day, for the kids and for me. :) This was my first time bringing the whole family along to a runDisney event. The kids were very back and forth about whether they wanted to participate in the kids’ races. Initially, I only registered Aidan, because Neely didn’t want to run. About a month later, she changed her mind, so I registered her, too. After we got to Florida, nobody wanted to race. We left it until the very last minute to decide. Before bed on Friday night, I showed them their t-shirts, race bibs, runDisney mouse ears, and they decided they would go to the races. We gave them the option to back out at any time. I’m really glad they didn’t, though.

The kids’ races are a lot of fun. There was music and dancing to warm everyone up beforehand. They had different distances for each age group. Neely ran the 200-meter dash, and Aidan ran the 400-meter dash. There’s no real rhyme or reason to how they line up. A group of kids lines up across the track, and they let them go in waves. Of the groups that my kids were in, they each finished second. Pretty impressive for Aidan, considering most of those kids were a head taller than him.

When everyone was done racing and had their adorable Duffy bear medals in hand, we made our way over the EPCOT to meet the rest of the family. We probably would have been better served just hanging out at the pool. This was the last weekend of the Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT. It was a madhouse. We went on a couple of rides in Future World, and literally spent the afternoon just trying to find a spot to sit in the World Showcase. There were wall-to-wall people, and let’s just say I’m thankful that my kids didn’t question any of the adults who were being loud, silly, or wearing t-shirts that said things like “Drunk 1″ and “Drunk 2.” Not a family-friendly day at EPCOT. We only stuck it out, because we had an early dinner reservation at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada.

The plan was for us to eat dinner at 4:30pm, and I would go back to the room and rest before race time. It took a lot longer than expected for us to be seated at Le Cellier. By the time we were, I was panicky. I’ve never run a night race. I knew I needed to be off my feet for a while. I knew the weather was probably going to be bad. I knew I shouldn’t actually eat most of the things on the menu. I settled for ordering soup and salad, and when I finished – adios. I went back to the room on my own to try and get some rest.

I didn’t. 6:00pm is not a quiet time at a Disney hotel. There are lots of kids moving up and down the hall, doors slamming, etc. I closed my eyes and laid on the bed for a while, but I never slept. Which made me even more panicky.

I finally gave it up and began getting dressed. Yes, there was a 98% chance of rain beginning at the exact time the race was supposed to start. Yes, I knew that a costume probably wouldn’t hold up, but I had nothing else to wear. So here it is, the costume –

Figuring out how to get white in my hair was a big pain in the butt. I tried white hairspray straight out of the Halloween section at Target, but it never made my hair white. No matter how much I used, it was gray. I considered chalk, but that would have been way too time-consuming. I finally found this tube of white hair gel online and decided it would have to do. I didn’t end up putting it on the entire half of my head, because the amount I had to glob on the turn it white? It took forever to dry. I streaked enough in my hair to make the rest of my costume make sense, then moved on. I was freaking out pretty badly by the time I was getting dressed, so at that point in the game, I really didn’t care how the costume turned out. That’s probably why I don’t have very good photos of it.

I got on the bus for the ESPN sports complex around 8:15pm. We made a few stops at other resorts and watched a good chunk of I, Robot, so it was closer to 9:00pm by the time I was headed to my corral, and the giant line for the bathroom, of course. At 9:30pm, the rain began. I wish I had brought along a poncho. I don’t think I’d have run in it, but it would have been nice to stay dry during that last 30 minutes hanging out in the corral, waiting for the race to start.

The race kicked off with fireworks at 10pm, and we were off! I knew very quickly that this was not going to be as much fun as I had hoped. I enjoy Disney races, because the spectators are awesome, my favorite characters are stationed along the course, the scenery is fun…but in the dark? In the rain? There weren’t many people out to cheer us on. There were only a few characters, most of them tucked away under awnings in Animal Kingdom…which we hit around mile four.

The next several miles were brutal. The Animal Kingdom parking lot is ginormous. You hit mile 4 in the back of the park and by mile 6, you’re almost out of the parking lot. Then, there was nothing to see but other miserable people and wet pavement until mile 9, when we reached the Hollywood Studios area.

Hollywood Studios and EPCOT are pretty close together, so the last portion of the race was more bearable. There were no characters in Hollywood Studios. It’s a good thing I’ll be seeing the Star Wars guys in January, else I might have been upset that they weren’t around. Darth Vader can’t handle some rain, y’all. Save that tip for a rainy day, Jedi. They had sort of a disco tunnel set up in Hollywood Studios, through part of the old Backlot Tour, and thankfully, I did get to do the one thing I signed up for this race to do…

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…run through The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. This was my first time ever seeing it. It is indescribable. I loved it! I tried to take a selfie, but I am a mascara-smeared mess. I’ll save you the agony of looking at the photo.

There is a little treachery between Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, when you run down the wooden boardwalk between the EPCOT resorts and the International Gateway entrance. It’s narrowish. It’s slippery. A lot of my concentration was focused on not getting hurt with barely over a mile to finish.

Once we were actually in EPCOT, I picked up the pace. It’s amazing what the prospect of a dry, warm bed will do for your motivation when you’ve been trudging along like a wet noodle for a couple of hours. My finish time for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon was 2:27:32. My best time is about six minutes faster, but I really wasn’t expecting to PR given the weather conditions and my state of mind anyway. On the upside, this wasn’t my slowest finish time, either.

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See? Hot mess.

I wish I could share a little insight into how the Finish Party was. It sounded like fun. They kept a lot of the attractions in EPCOT and the Food & Wine Festival booths open until 4am. We sat down to celebrate at the Rose & Crown Pub in the U.K. Pavilion, and shortly after received a phone call that sent us sprinting (hobbling quickly, in my case) back to the hotel at 1:30am. What I have insight into instead is how amazing Disney is when a child wanders out of a hotel room (adjoining my brother and sister-in-law – she was not left unattended) in the middle of the night.

All in all, it turned out to be a successful day. Although at this point, I don’t really have the desire to attempt this particular race again, but I’m glad it’s been crossed off my bucket list.

 

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Disney 2014 – Animal Kingdom & Magic Kingdom

On our first day at Disney World, we spent part of the day at Animal Kingdom and part of the day at the Magic Kingdom. I missed some of the Animal Kingdom adventures, because I took a midday detour to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to pick up my race bib for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.

Good times. You’ll start to see a few of our Memory Maker photos here. I really love this photo package that Disney offers now. As part of the package, you get unlimited downloads of all photos taken of your family by Disney photographers during your trip. Which means, this time, there are actually a handful of photos with me in them! You know, to prove I actually went on the trip. (ha!)

We knew we’d be back in the Magic Kingdom later in the trip, so this was a very laid-back day. We ate lunch, watched the parade, ate ice cream, rode a few rides, and were out of the park by 6:00pm. We rode the ferry across the lake to the Polynesian Resort, where we enjoyed dinner at ‘Ohana. I think we were back in our room by 9:00pm, which is fairly early when you’re working on Disney time. ;) It gave us a chance to make use of our balconies for a bit of relaxation. My brother’s and parents’ rooms had a great view of the fireworks show at EPCOT. (which means this travel agent now knows what room to request for you)

It was a fun first day at Disney World. At this point, I wasn’t worried one bit about being too worn out for the race the next evening. More on that soon, though.

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