Run – Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon


Guys. Exciting news. Registration for Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon opens on Tuesday, March 4th at noon EST….and I am signing up! I have heard so many fun things about this race.

The event weekend is November 8-9, 2014. My kids actually have the following Monday and Tuesday off from school, so we are going! I’m already planning my costume. Oh, yes. It’s gonna be awesome.

Who else plans to register for this one?


Eat – Baked Avocados with Salsa

I have a new go-to for lunch. It’s healthy and yummy, and as an added bonus, it’s ready in less than 15 minutes. Bam!
Baked Avocado

I overheard someone talking about these babies the other day, and I knew I had to try them myself. They’d make a good, quick dinner too, maybe with a side of rice or black beans?

All you need is an avocado (or more if you’re feeding more than just yourself), pico de gallo or salsa (from the produce section of the grocery store – the good stuff), and some shredded cheese. I have a pizzeria mix that I combined with some cheddar.

Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. If the pit is small, use a spoon to carve out a little extra space for your salsa. Place the avocados in a baking dish, fill with salsa, and top with cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, and voila! Deliciousness.

Magical Monday – Character Dining at Disney World

Let me tell you a secret. I have met a lot of characters in my Disney travels – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, Belle, Jasmine, Aurora, Tiana, the list goes on. I never hardly ever wait in those insane lines you see in the parks to meet them.

What’s my secret? Character dining. You get to relax and give your feet a break, enjoy a nice meal with your family, and your favorite characters come to you while you dine. In fact, I may have already spoiled my children with these experiences. On our last visit to Disney World, my daughter saw Goofy strolling through the park en route to his meet-up location. She smiled and waved, genuinely excited to see him. When I asked her if she’d like to wait in line to meet him, she looked at me like I was crazy.

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Character meals are also a good way to gauge whether or not your children are terrified of the characters or not. On our first family trip, Aidan was three, and Neely was barely over a year old. Our first stop after checking in was dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table. At the time, you’d meet Cinderella in the lobby, then Fairy Godmother and some of the mice put on a show during dinner. Those mice? Terrifying, apparently. Check the bottom right corner of that photo above – that’s a screaming baby. We didn’t bother with character meets the rest of our vacation.


On our next visit, we ate dinner at Chef Mickey’s on our first night. By this time, Aidan was six, and Neely was three. Neely was in heaven meeting Mickey Mouse and company. Aidan pretended he could care less, but most of the characters could at least coax a smile from him. We repeated Cinderella’s Royal Table a few nights later, and meeting five of her favorite princesses at one meal was a highlight of the trip for Neely.




Most kids enjoy meeting their favorite Disney characters. Character dining experiences make this less of a headache for parents.

Me & Minnie

Okay, some adults are a little nuts about it, too. 🙂

Where should you eat? What characters can you find at which restaurants? I’m glad you asked.

Restaurant Location Meals Characters
1900 Park Fare Grand Floridian Magic Kingdom area Breakfast


Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter at breakfast; Cinderella and Prince Charming at dinner
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Norway Pavilion at EPCOT Breakfast



Snow White, Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, Princess Aurora, Mary Poppins
Cape May Café Beach Club Resort

EPCOT area

Breakfast Goofy & friends
Chef Mickey’s Contemporary Resort

Magic Kingdom area



Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck & Goofy
Cinderella’s Royal Table Magic Kingdom Breakfast



Cinderella and other Disney princesses
The Crystal Palace Magic Kingdom Breakfast



Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and friends
Garden Grill EPCOT Dinner Chip & Dale, Mickey Mouse, and others
Hollywood & Vine Hollywood Studios Breakfast


Disney Junior Friends, such as Jake, Sofia, Handy Manny, and Doc McStuffins
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ The Campsites at Fort Wilderness Dinner Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Chip & Dale
‘Ohana Polynesian Resort

Magic Kingdom area

Breakfast Lilo & Stitch, Mickey Mouse, Pluto
Tusker House Animal Kingdom Breakfast


Safari Donald Duck and friends

My family’s personal favorites are Chef Mickey’s and Cinderella’s Royal Table. Just know that if you are using Disney’s dining plan, it’ll cost you two of your table service credits to eat at Cindy’s. If princesses are a must, but you want to conserve meal credits, 1900 Park Fare and Akershus are great alternatives. If you’re planning your Disney vacation with me, I’ll help you get reservations for these fun places!

There really is a character meal for just about everyone, and you can’t beat the convenience of being able to skip some of those meet and greet lines.


When I was a kid, we used to go tubing. It usually involved hunting down a sketchy backwoods mechanic with inner tubes to spare, questionable parking on the side of a winding, two-lane road, and hiking the same section of the Pigeon River (or was it the Little Pigeon River?) a time or fifty to ride the “rapids” over and over and over again.

Here in North Dakota, it means something totally different. Like everything else, it involves snow! Last weekend, it was warm enough to be outside without it being painful, so we gave it a go.


There’s a place north of here called Bottineau Winter Park where you can have the whole Northern tubing experience. They have fun slides built, and you can rent tubes from them. Quite possibly the best part is the tube lift. I never knew there was such a thing. Each tube has a rope with a handle attached, and the lift has these hooks where they stick the handle. It drags you right up the hill!


Here are my boys, waiting to be dragged up the hill.


And my girl, also waiting.


Me and my girl, about to slide down for the first time. Neely was actually terrified at the beginning. We started sliding down the first hill, and she was gripping my hands on the handles like her life depended on it. So I, being the good mother I am (or a total nut), started to yell, “Wheeeeeeeeee!” She started laughing at me and forgot about being scared. It was all downhill from there. Get it? 😉

Everyone had fun. Even Aidan, who claims to be afraid of heights. Except for that one time I ran over him at the bottom of the hill. Oops!

Magical Monday – runDisney

I thought that, since there is a runDisney event coming up this weekend, this would be a great week to talk about Disney’s race weekends.

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This year, Disney is hosting a grand total of seven running event weekends at its parks – the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend, Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, the Expedition Everest Challenge, Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend, and the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. All of these events have sold out, with the exception of Tower of Terror and Wine & Dine. At time of posting, Tower of Terror is 50% full, and registration for Wine & Dine has not yet opened.

In the last several years, Disney races have really increased in popularity. I registered for the 2013 Princess Half Marathon in October 2012, and registration had been open for a couple months. I recall the race being about 70% full when I finally committed. For 2014, this race sold out in a matter of hours. When registration for the Disneyland Half Marathon in late August opened a few weeks ago, it sold out in less than 12 hours.

Within the last year, runDisney has added a 10K to almost all of their event weekends, combining them with the 5K and half marathons already in place to form some sort of challenge. For the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, it’s the Dopey Challenge – that’s a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon run in four consecutive days for a total of 48.6 miles. Last year, the worst you could do was be “Goofy” and run the half and the full marathons back to back for a total of 39.3 miles.  The Princess Race weekend has now added the Glass Slipper Challenge, where you run a 10K and the half marathon within two days. The Disneyland Half Marathon weekend added a 10K last year, adding the Dumbo Double Dare if you finish both races. The addition of the 10K races and challenges seems to have amped up the race weekends’ popularity by leaps and bounds.

If you want to runDisney, you have to plan ahead. Way ahead. If you visit the runDisney website, each race has an e-mail signup where you enter your e-mail address and receive a reminder in your inbox with the date and time registration will open for that particular race. You need to be at the computer the moment registration opens if you want to guarantee a spot.

runDisney Charity Groups

However, if you forgot or didn’t get to the computer fast enough on registration day, there is still another way to participate in runDisney events. If you click into the event you’re interested in and choose the “Registration” tab, there is a subcategory that says “Charity Groups.” Here, you will see a list of charitable organizations that have reserved bibs for the race. Each has its own set of requirements for how you can run as part of their team. Usually, it’s a dollar amount that you commit to raise in funds for that charity in exchange for a spot in the race. The upside is that you are guaranteed a bib even if the race sells out. Most of these teams will also have special room discounts for the event weekend as well. Some will even pay for your room if you raise enough money for their cause.

I love runDisney events. As compared with other races, they are much more light-hearted. There will be some serious competitors, but most of the runners you’ll see on the course are mostly there to have a good time. I love the excuse to wear a fun Disney costume, and running through Cinderella’s castle cannot be beat. There are characters stationed along the route, so if you’re not aiming for a certain finish time, you can stop and take pictures. There is music and laughter. The spectators are having as much fun as the racers. It’s just wonderful.

I also love there are so many events to choose from – kids’ races, 5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons, marathons…there is really something for every kind of runner (or walker! as long as you stay ahead of the balloon ladies) out there.

Pre Race

If you have cheerleaders traveling to the race with you, I highly recommend the ChEAR squad packages. I brought a friend with me to the race last year, and I bought her the Gold ChEAR squad package. She got a t-shirt, blanket, Mickey clappers, reserved seating, private restroom access, and drinks. I figured it was the least I could do, since she was venturing out at 3:30am with me. 🙂

My biggest tips for future Disney runners?

1. Train, but don’t take yourself too seriously. It is Disney.

2. Wear a costume. (Definitely makes it hard to take yourself too seriously.)

3. Stay on property. Traffic on race days is super crazy. It is so nice to get on the bus from your resort and not have road rage by the time you arrive at the start line.

Need a room for your upcoming event? You know who to talk to. 🙂

Disney Nostalgia

Nemo & FriendsI’ve been digging through my old Disney photos, trying to see what might be useful for upcoming posts. The photos from my kids’ first trip just make my heart melt. The Seas with Nemo & Friends at EPCOT has always been one of our favorites. Look at that fuzzy head! And those cheeks! And those chubby wubby legs! And let’s not forget my little guy making mischief in the background. Typical.

I have nothing but fond memories of this trip. Further proof that you can absolutely take babies to Disney World and have fun! 🙂

It’s almost Valentine’s Day!

DSC_0188We’ve been getting ready for Valentine’s Day around here! This year, I have completely abandoned the Pinterest project boards. My feed has been bombarded with pink and red pretty much since the day after Christmas. And here’s the thing. I love Pinterest. I really do. Sometimes, though, spending too much time on the site does nothing but make me feel bad about myself for not taking time to assemble cute handmade goodies for both my kids’ classes. Other times, I fall in with the masses and am one of the four moms that hand out Reindeer Noses at Christmas. This Valentine’s Day, I resolved not to let all those uber-creative moms sharing their projects on the interwebs get me down. I spent $5 at Wal-Mart on boxed cards, and these little guys loved them. They had fun signing the cards and adding stickers, and that is all that matters.

We did put a little more effort into the boy’s Valentine box. BUT, I am proud to say, I did not use the internet to find an idea. We brainstormed, decided on a course of action, and I figured out a way to make it happen all by myself. It’s another good reminder that I don’t need to rely on other people to be creative for me.

What kind of box did he make?


A Lego! I know. It’s really not that hard to execute. I’m proud of it anyway. He was proud of it too, until some jerk kid knocked one of the pegs off the top as soon as he got it to school. Sorry if it’s your jerk kid I’m talking about, but seriously? Who does that? Meany pants.

I’m trying not to dwell on it. I am getting excited about the heart-shaped pizzas that we’re celebrating with this year. Oh, yes. Valentine’s Day at our house is fancy. 🙂