People I Meet Traveling – The Chatterbox

This story is only a few weeks old. I haven’t told it here yet. The only other thing I have to write about this week is sad. I’ll probably get to it soon, but for now…enjoy.

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I was on the 6:25am flight from San Antonio to Minneapolis. I’d been up since 3:20am, my brain too fidgety to let me sleep any longer. The kids and I waited in line after line and were finally on the airplane. When I purchased our tickets, the only way to have seats near one another was to put Aidan & Neely in the row in front of me. I had the window seat. It wasn’t the most ideal scenario, but I figured we’d make it work.

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I waited to see who claimed the seat across the aisle from them, intending to ask to trade. When a large, tall man sat down, I knew it was pointless even to ask. He wouldn’t want my window seat. I settled in for the ride.

A short while later, my seat buddy showed up. He was a little guy, nine years old, whose mother has apparently never taught him “stranger danger.” (Maybe that’s unfair. Maybe he just didn’t listen.) First, he told me about the tablet he got for Christmas, and had I ever seen the one that says “R-C-A?” Second, he told me, as I stared in horror, about how he sometimes gets sick on airplanes and this one time when he was four he barfed ALL OVER THE FLOOR but it’s ok because he took Dramamine today, and by the way do I know about the Skylander called Cynder?

Gulp.

I like kids. I do. But if I’ve got to deal with a kid getting sick on an airplane, that little puker had better belong to me.

I did a mental checklist of what I had packed in my carry-on. Extra clothes? Nope. I figured I might be purchasing whatever the heck I could find in the Minneapolis airport, and it would probably have a moose on it. Or a Viking.

Grandma and big sister were on the other side of the aisle. If you know you’ve got a kid that might blow mid-flight, do you sit with him? Or put him by a stranger? I seriously could not understand what was happening. I tried for the whole flight to make eye contact with Grandma. Do you know when she met my eye for the first time? When the damn airplane landed. After I’d had my ear talked off for two hours. Thankfully, nobody vomited.

I did manage about a 30-minute nap somewhere in there, grabbing my pillow and screwing my eyes shut the one time the little guy turned his attention from me, but the moment I stirred, he picked up right where he left off. I learned so much. He’s from Pennsylvania. He’s a big brother AND a little brother. His dad lives in Texas. His little brother lives in Texas. His sister is two years older than him. He loves Skylanders. Some of them live in his room, and he’s trained them to be nice. Sometimes, the new ones aren’t nice, and it’s scary. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could build ladders into the clouds? Then, you could probably find a really nice, comfy spot to sit and read in the clouds. Wouldn’t that be nice? He bets clouds are really soft, and maybe bouncy. He really likes the window seat, but it wouldn’t be a good idea to trade with me, because he needs to stay by his family. It’s safer that way. He really likes the tablet he got for Christmas. It has a lot of apps. Do I want to see? Do I have a lot of apps on my tablet? Why don’t I have games? Are those your kids? How old are your kids? What grade are they in? Where do you live? Do you know where (random town in Pennsylvania) is? There’s a new MOD on Minecraft. Want to guess what it has? They have big ears and can jump really high. Can you guess? Do you like Minecraft?

By the time the Minecraft conversation started, we’d finally landed. Of course, Aidan began to chime in, and I realized I should have traded seats with my own son. I’m an idiot.

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New runDisney Costume Guidelines

Of course, as soon as I post about Disney race costumes, they go and change the rules on us.

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Straight from the runDisney blog, here are the new guidelines:

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Some of these rules, I completely understand. Some of them, however, rule out some of the best race costumes I’ve ever seen. Some of them, well…you have two Star Wars races now. Nobody can dress as a Jedi? Because of the robe? Come on. And so what if I think someone else’s costume is amazing and want to take a picture? Where is the harm in that? Does anyone else have strong opinions about this?

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My Favorite runDisney Costumes…for now

This week, Disney runners are packing up their tutus and donning their mouse ears, gearing up for 2016’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. I am more than a little jealous. One day, I will be closer. One day, I will run all the races. Today…well, today is not that day.

Until then, let’s take a look at some of my (latest) favorite costumes from past runDisney events! As a warning, you won’t find any princesses here. There’s an entire race in February just for them.

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Let’s begin with Cinderella’s stepsisters – Anastasia and Drizella. This has long been a favorite of mine, but I’ve never had a runDisney buddy to try it with.

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Of course, I have to include Cruella de Vil. You’ve seen her here before, and you’ll probably see her again. I tried to recreate this one myself, but I didn’t look near as awesome as Kelly does.

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Russell & Kevin from Up! Again, I’d need a buddy. I’d also need that buddy to let me be Kevin.

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This BB-8 costume is outstanding. This gal was at a different Disney event, but I saw something very similar at the Star Wars 10K last January while waiting to begin. HER ARMS ARE INSIDE. I prayed that poor girl wouldn’t trip.

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Are there any Inside Out fans among us? This is a great idea for a large group.

This last one is my very favorite…

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The Disneyland Churro! Click over and read the post. That costume is SCENTED! I’ll bet there were a lot of runners craving churros that day.

No matter what race you’re running this weekend, good luck to you, costumed wonders!

 

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Bring it on, 2016!

It has been months since I’ve blogged. When I sit and think it through, I can narrow it all down to two reasons:

  1. Time. There isn’t enough of it. I know you’ve heard it all before, but it’s not always easy to juggle everything I want to do, everything I need to do, and the random things I’m expected to do. The fact that I even typed “that I’m expected to do” is ridiculous. Those things, I should probably toss out the window first, but if you haven’t figured it out by now, let me clue you in on something. I am a people pleaser. I want everyone to be happy. I want everyone to like me. I don’t want to disappoint anyone. Which leads me to my next point…
  1. Content. Although I’m busy, I’m afraid nobody really wants to hear about any of it. Is it boring to talk about my kids? Work? What I’m eating? The gym? Haven’t you heard it all before? Do I really manage to put my own “spin” on it? Do I sound like a complainer? Is there any point to it? I’ve begun to write so many times and gotten nowhere, because I’ve turned into a great big chicken, afraid of either being criticized or that no one really even gives two craps, which kind of brings everything full circle.

As usual, as a new year begins, I’m thinking through my goals and accomplishments from the previous year and looking forward. I didn’t publish any goals for 2015, but I had several that I kept to myself. I made seven, and I pulled off two. Most were fairly personal this time around, so sorry, but I’m still not sharing.

My goal for 2016 is to write more. I love writing. Even if it’s just for me, I want to put something on the ol’ blog at least once a week. That’s only four-ish times a month. I think it’s completely reasonable. Oh, look! I’m all set for this week. Too bad it’s Friday.

Sandals – The Countdown is ON

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In just 10 days, I’ll be on my way to this gorgeous Sandals resort in Jamaica. Why? So I can learn all about Sandals’ fabulous couples vacations, come home, and pass the knowledge on to you!

My primary focus as a travel agent so far as been all Disney, all the time. Disney will likely remain my primary focus, but I’m excited to have Sandals in my back pocket for when my clients are in search of a more relaxing vacation.

I mean, look at this place. Show of hands – who wants to go right now?

Enjoy those pics. I should have some of my own to share soon enough.

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Seven.

DSC_0152This cute little thing celebrated her seventh birthday today. Seven! I am officially a big kid mom.

We had her birthday party last weekend at the indoor pool. The kids had a lot of fun.

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Neely’s party theme was “Teen Beach Movie” this year. I cannot take any credit for the cake this time around. I took a photo to Cookies For You and handed over my credit card. I wanted a low-stress party without spending days working on a cake. I didn’t realize that driving the darn thing home was going to give me an anxiety attack.

For today, of course, we had to make cupcakes for Neely’s class. I think you get kicked out of first grade and shunned by all the other children if you don’t bring treats on your birthday. I baked, and Neely decorated. She’s a great helper.

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See? A cupcake masterpiece.

After school, there were two last birthday requests to fulfill. 1) A trip to the zoo. 2) Dinner at McDonald’s. (no photographs needed)

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We brought half the kids from our street along with us. The zoo was pretty empty, so they had a blast running around like they owned the place. I think every animal has a name now.

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Aren’t they a good-looking bunch?

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We’ll probably keep them.

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One more for the road – me and my girl. It’s nice to have a friend to man the camera every once in a while.

Happy seventh, Neely Bug!

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Back to School: 2015 Edition

After what may have been the shortest summer ever, my kids started school again this week. It’s always a bittersweet day. Combine the excitement of a new year, new teacher, and new friends with the sadness of losing the ability to wake on your own every morning, ride bikes, and eat popsicles all day with the glorious anticipation of finally having five consecutive minutes without a child asking me for something (usually the aforementioned popsicles) and you get the first day of school.

Neely climbed into bed with me sometime the night before, so when 7:00am came and her alarm started playing…well, it wasn’t very helpful. At 7:15am, I threw back the blackout curtains, opened the blinds, and watched the vampire burn. (I’ve discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns on Pivot. Sue me.) Anyway, she grumpily clomped down the stairs in search of a darker spot and decided the kitchen floor was good enough. That’s when I decided to take the first of the first day of school pictures.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.35.04 PMThe worst part of the school year is getting this little darling out of bed each morning. Last year, I kept hoping it would get easier. It didn’t. She’s just not a morning person. Ah, well.

Everyone did manage to get dressed, eat breakfast, have lunch packed, and do their chores on time. They even left me enough time to take MORE pictures. (bwoah-ha-ha-ha…)

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My first grader. She perked up pretty well.

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My fourth grader. He’s my early riser. This little man has been up at 7:00am every day, all summer long. He gets himself dressed and makes his bed without being asked. Thank goodness one of them makes mornings easier.

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Of course, I had to take a sweet pic of the two kiddos together. And then this happened…

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I literally laughed out loud when I found those in the camera. I remember telling them to act silly and snapping a few pictures really quickly, but I was so intent on putting the camera away and getting everyone to school on time that I didn’t realize what I’d gotten.

In case you were wondering, they both have had a great first week so far. They like their teachers. They have friends in their classes. The love riding bikes and scooters to school and home with all their Rockridge friends. I have high hopes for this year. I’m glad it’s all beginning well.

 

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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!

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