runDisney Princess Half Marathon Race Recap 2017

A couple of weeks ago I have the privilege of running in my 6th runDisney Princess half marathon. I ran the Glass Slipper Challenge last year and in 2014, but this year my friend Jen and I decided to save some money (and some sleep!) and just run the half marathon. (Pssst. There is a video at the end of the post so hang tight to watch a recap from my Instagram Stories!)

Every year we dress up, and this year was a bit crazy for both of us and we didn’t have time to create elaborate matching costumes like we have done in the past. However, we still dressed up and per usual kept our costumes a secret until the night before the race. We went to bed early, and my 2:45 am alarm came way too soon.

We got dressed, put on our traditional fake eyelashes like we do every year (you would THINK we would be better at this by now!) and headed to the bus.

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(Coming soon: A tutorial on how I created my costume, the easy/I’m terrible at sewing kind of tutorial!)

We got to the bus stop in front of the Yacht Club, and were the last people loaded before we left. What was interesting was we were on a park bus, not a regular greyhound which was a first for me with runDisney. There was a lot of traffic, but we made it to EPCOT by about 4:15 and walked to the family reunion area where we met up with a friend before checking Jen’s bag. It was chillier than I expected, and I was thankful for my throw away sweatshirt I remembered to bring.

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We had never gotten to the corrals this early before, and they were pretty empty! runDisney got smart and put a row of port-o-potties close to the front corrals so we were able to go to the bathroom with no line and then jump in D corral. Karen was also in our corral, so she hung out with us and started the race with us, too. Our plan was to just have fun and take walk breaks. I was super undertrained and this was just a “for fun” race.

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The race started a few minutes late because the traffic was so bad, but finally we made it up to the start line with the rest of our corral.

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After a quick hi to Rudy and Carissa, we were off on our 13.1 mile journey!

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The first couple of miles are always so uneventful. It’s dark, there is nothing to look at, and you start thinking about all the miles ahead! Thankfully we just all chatted together until around mile 2 when Karen decided to stop for a character photo that we decided to skip (lines were already so long! I can’t imagine how bad they were for the corrals behind us.) We made it to the Magic Kingdom gates and I was excited we were getting closer to the more exciting parts of the course.

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After a quick stop at the med tent for body glide, we were on our way towards the TTC. I have to admit, I was a little bummed at the low crows at this spot. Traditionally this is my second favorite spot in the race because of all the energy from wall to wall people screaming and cheering, but this year there was hardly anyone and it made me sad. Did anyone else notice this? It wasn’t very cold outside so I’m not sure what the deal was. We passed my favorite drummers and kept going towards the big hill.

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When we made the turn to get to the Magic Kingdom, we thought it was odd that the 5 mile marker wasn’t in it’s usual place. (The things you notice when you have run this course over a dozen times!) We would later find out the course through the Magic Kingdom was slightly altered which is why the markers were in a different place.

We made the turn onto Main Street, my favorite part, and again it just didn’t have the same crowd and energy I am used to seeing, but it’s still my favorite part.

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We stopped and found a girl by herself trying to take a photo and we took turns getting pics for each other. I love runners!

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Next stop was the bathroom in Tomorrowland. We used to stop at the ones at the TTC, but a couple years ago they started locking those for us for some reason, which means even more princesses waiting in line in Tomorrowland. We had a several minute delay, and then were on our way again.

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We made it out of the Magic Kingdom (sad times) and made another bathroom stop at the next water station (too much coffee!) We arrived at the long stretch of single lane road, and Jen and I can’t figure out why its always so COLD on this part of the course! Any ideas? Before long we were at mile seven by the Grand Floridian. I took a picture with Snow White, since the line for her in the Magic Kingdom was dozens of people long. This is as close as I was going to get.

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The next few miles were uneventful again, just running out on the road. We saw the race going the other way towards the Magic Kingdom around mile 2.5 I guess, and I saw the balloon ladies! I yelled for the princesses to run faster! We grabbed a CLIF shot at the free station around mile nine, and took a walk break to eat those (I am not coordinated enough to run and eat at the same time). Next we were making the turn on the loop of death at mile 10 (it KILLS my IT bands) and had a 5k to go. At this point we had gotten to the length of my longest and one and only really long run from this training cycle of 10 miles, and I was getting tight even though we weren’t running fast at all. My right thigh/quad up near my hip flexor started to hurt, but we only had a couple miles to go so I just pushed through.

Soon we hit mile 11, and looped around and up the overpass and down into EPCOT and mile 12. A photographer caught me doing an Insta story on my phone. Oops. But seriously, if this doesn’t sum up my life I don’t know what does.

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We looped around the small part of the course that goes through the park, and then I could hear the gospel choir singing! Miles 13 came and went, and we were in the home stretch of the finish line.

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Can I just say that I love getting race pictures free as an annual passholder?!?

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We made it! After crossing the finish line in 2:32, we had to get pixie dusted of course.

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We got our medals, and headed over to the Media/VIP tent for some much deserved food and of course, mimosas.

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Now I was able to do my favorite thing, cheer other runners on as they came through the finish. I LOVE seeing runners tearing up, holding hands with loved ones, and just getting to experience the looks on their faces as they are mere steps from the finish line. There is just nothing like it, and it makes me so happy.

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Mimosas make me happy, too.

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So does this guy. Always takes time to talk to runners and makes us all feel so special. Jeff Galloway is the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carissa came into the tent for some food and we were able to say hello for a minute and grab a picture.

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We hung out and ate some more, met with a couple of people, and then headed back to the resort. I am so thankful to have a friend like Jen who gifted me with the opportunity to run in another Princess half marathon. I also love our little tradition of running the Princess half!

If you want to see a video I took during the race as a recap, and also see what Jen and I did for the rest of the day after the race, be sure to check out the video below. Please note this video is my Instagram story from the day, and apparently it doesn’t like when you have still shots mixed in with your videos, so there are about 5 times during the video where you will see it “Freeze up” for a couple of seconds. These are the places where I had still shots that won’t come up, so just ignore it, it will keep playing!

 

For more race recaps and general runDisney information, photos, and posts, check out my runDisney page!

Top 5 Overlooked Disney World Restaurants

Disney dining is a hot topic among vacationers. Sought after reservations are planned months in advance, menus are scoured, and pictures are researched. In a lot of searches, you will see the same restaurants mentioned over and over. Not only are (some) of these Disney World restaurants over rated, but a lot are near impossible to get into, especially for a last minute trip.

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In my experience, resort dining is often overlooked, but is some of the best food on Disney property. Also, these places have been known to take last minute reservations and walk ups. Check out my list below of five of my favorite hidden gem restaurants at Walt Disney World:

Name: Trails End Buffet

Location: Fort Wilderness Campground

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This buffet truly is “hidden” in the woods on Disney property. You cannot park directly at the restaurant, and instead must either park at check in and take an internal bus, or take a boat. The best way to describe this place is “comfort food”. As a born and raised southerner, I consider myself an expert on sweet tea. So far, Trail’s End has hands down, the best sweet tea, on Disney property. Also, since it’s not a character buffet, the price is very reasonable for an all you can eat. It’s usually pretty quiet, and we love sitting on the porch in the rocking chairs before or after our meal just soaking in vacation. If you want to relax, this is a great place to go!

Name: Kona Cafe

Location: Polynesian Village Resort

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Kona Café is right next door to the ever popular Ohana. On several occasions, I have been able to walk up without a reservation to Kona, even at prime dinner time. On the second floor of the lobby, Kona has a fun colorful open atmosphere, with a great menu. Since it’s on the monorail loop, you could even leave the Magic Kingdom, go eat, then go back to the part without wasting a lot of time.

Name: Grand Floridian Café

Location: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

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This is another place I consider quiet and relaxing. We love getting a table by the window for breakfast or lunch, and enjoy the bright light that comes in through the tall windows of the restaurant. Off by itself in the back of the lobby, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of check in, and 1900 Park Fare. You can easily hop on the monorail or a boat to the Magic Kingdom, so it’s prime location is a huge draw in my opinion.

Name: Splitsville

Location: Disney Springs

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There are several reasons I love Splitsville, one being the birthday cake martini. Another great plus to this place is that it has a HUGE menu, so I’m certain you will find something for everyone here. Also, you can eat WHILE you bowl, which is pretty awesome and unique. My favorite is to ask to eat outside on the upstairs balcony. It has great views of Disney Springs, especially at sunset. Not to mention, since there is no admission to get into Disney Springs, you don’t have to have a park ticket to eat here. I have also walked up and been seated immediately many times.

Name: The Wave

Location: Contemporary Resort

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Another restaurant I picked in part to it’s great location. Just one stop after leaving the Magic Kingdom, this cool place off the lobby of the Contemporary has a very chill vibe. The drink menu is fun, and the options are plentiful. After you eat, simply walk the path back to the Magic Kingdom, or hop on the monorail to the TTC and go to EPCOT or back to the Magic Kingdom. So many options!

QOTD: What is your favorite often overlooked Disney restaurant?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 5

Today is my last installment of our trip, check it out:

This was our last full day at Walt Disney World (see what we did in part 4 here), and we were headed to EPCOT. Emma Kate had been saying she wanted to meet Ana and Elsa for WEEKS, so our plan was to arrive early, do the standby line for the meet and greet, and then do our fastpass for the Frozen Ever After ride later that afternoon.

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Emma Kate just so happened to wake up REALLY early, so we played on the playground at Saratoga Springs for a bit and then just decided to go ahead and drive over to EPCOT. We had NO idea they were letting people in early, so we got lucky with a short standby line for Ana and Elsa.

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We got closer and closer in line, and I started to hype Emma Kate up and get her ready to meet her favorite princesses. She said she was going to give them big hugs and smile pretty. Aaaannnddd this is what we got:

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She was TERRIFIED of Elsa and would not hug her. EK’s face just cracks me up! We moved on to Ana, and she warmed up enough to hug her, but she made it clear she was NOT happy about it.

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Bless it. Look at the side eye poor Ana is getting.

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I die. Of course when we left she said she wanted to go hug Elsa…too late kid. We will try again when we go back in April and see if it’s any different. I think Emma Kate was just a bit overwhelmed.

After the princess photos, we headed over to ride the Nemo ride, and then check out the aquarium.

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EK was going through a hardcore Nemo phase so she loved this ride.

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After this, we rode Living with the Land. This is always a favorite of mine. I’m a total nerd and love seeing how they grow their fruit and veggies.

We walked around the world showcase and got some food and wine offerings. My dad tried sushi in Japan, and we all got food in Italy, and I had a glass of alcohol. Emma Kate was starting to get tired from her early wakeup, but it was time for our Frozen Ever After fastpasses. Our plan was to ride the ride, then let her nap in the stroller while we ate some more food and walked around.

We got in the fastpass line, and right as we got up to the front to get on a boat (we were literally the next ones to get on)…the ride broke down. I kid you not. We were in the loading area, so we just stood there for awhile, me holding Emma Kate. They turned all the lights on, evacuated people off the ride, and people began leaving. About this time, poor EK started to fall asleep in my arms. I decided to sit down against the wall with my dad and just let her sleep. We had nothing else to do, so may as well hold our front of the line spot and wait.

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Because we were right where you board and no longer in the actual que, we had plenty of space and started talking to a cast member from Norway who had been here for a few months. He was a super nice guy with zero accent, and he said he had worked very hard on his English. We talked about the differences in our countries, etc. all while waiting for the ride to come back up. Finally, about 45 minutes later, they started letting people board. Emma Kate woke up and was very confused, but she got to see the ride.

We were all pretty tired by this point, but we had to make one more stop for my favorite drink.

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I couldn’t hold my huge toddler and drink my drink, so I put her in the stroller and she was NOT happy about it. She cried the whole way to the parking lot, which was super fun for everyone. Poor thing needed a longer nap.

We watched some football, took Emma Kate to the playground, and got ready to have friends over. A few years ago when we were staying club level at the Grand Floridian, my parents struck up a conversation with a nice couple and they have kept in touch. When we stayed at Saratoga four years ago, they come over one night and we BBQ’ed out by the playground and had a great time, so we did it again this trip!

Saratoga has a really nice covered pavilion with fans and picnic tables right next to the playground, we we all hung out while my dad cooked and Emma Kate could play. After dinner, they went home and Emma Kate went to bed. my mom watched her while my dad and I walked to Disney Springs (have I mentioned I LOVE the proximity of this resort to Disney Springs?)

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We walked through some of the shops and watched a show up on the stage. Then we decided to get ice cream from Ghirardelli and not tell my mom. However, my dad made a huge mistake and paid with his credit card, and my mom saw the bill when it came in so we were busted! Anyway, it was delicious, and a nice relaxing way to end out trip.

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The next morning, I got up early and went for a quick run before we left.  I had not had the chance to run the whole trip since I was with Emma Kate 95% of the time, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance to run somewhere different. I went out while it was still dark, and it was so nice and peaceful.

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After I got back and showered, we loaded up the car and started our long (long long) drive home. With it being my first time to take a toddler to Disney, I learned a lot.

It was Halloween, and we decided to stop and spend the night in Destin to break up the trip. We went to the beach that afternoon and Emma Kate was not a fan of the sand.

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I found out that there was trick or treating at the outlet mall, so that’s exactly what we did!

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The next morning we went back to the beach and Emma Kate hated it even more than the day before and wouldn’t step foot on it and wanted to go “bye bye”.

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We stayed out all of 15 minutes and then I took her to the pool while my mom and dad stayed at the beach. Confession: I will admit I was a little frustrated. I had so been looking forward to spending the morning on the beautiful Destin beach, and here I was, finally there, and I got to see it for ten minutes. Then I was stuck at the freezing pool (the hotel building cast a shadow on the pool) by myself just me and Emma Kate, cold and pretty miserable for over an hour, just being frustrated I wasn’t in the sun on the sand and had no idea when I would be back. I had my little pity party then got over it and we played until my parents came. We stayed for a bit longer, then headed up to the room to pack up and drive home.

We made a bunch of mistakes, and will know better for next time. While Bobby and I have only taken her on day trips to Disney since we’ve moved to Tampa, we have made adjustments and Emma Kate has done a lot better overall than she did in October. We will be taking her back in April for a few nights and I know we will have a great time!

QOTD: Have you been to Destin? Have you ever trick or treated at a mall?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 4

We left off part 3 with the family heading to the Contemporary to eat brunch at Chef Mickeys. Since we had a little bit of a typical two year old behavioral issue at Crystal Palace, I was really hoping Chef Mickeys would be better, and not as new or overwhelming as her first character meal.

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Donald was the first to come around and she was pretty shy. She didn’t want to sit in a high chair or regular chair, so she was in our laps for most of the meal. She let Donald take a picture with her, but she wouldn’t hug him or stand by him.

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She did however get to watch the characters get closer and closer so I think that helped her to “warm up” a little bit. She LOVED Minnie mouse and got down on the floor to hug her. Minnie did a great job getting down to Emma Kate’s level which was appreciated.

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She really loved Pluto and his nose and “big tongue” the best though. She got antsy towards the end of the meal and wanted to run around, but overall she did way better than the Crystal Palace meal.

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After the meal, we walked around the back of the Contemporary out by the pool. I love that there is a little selfie station so everyone could get in the picture.

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When we got back to the resort, Emma Kate wanted to go to the pool (shocker), so my dad and I took her while my mom went shopping, since my mom had her the whole day before while I was house hunting with my dad. We may or may not have brought wine to the pool in Styrofoam cups. Hey, it’s 5:00 somewhere, right?

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I couldn’t believe the amazing weather we were having. It wasn’t hot at all for October in central Florida.

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We eventually moved over to the big pool.

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I honestly can’t remember what we did for dinner that night it’s been so long now, but I know we didn’t go anywhere. Brunch was so late we were probably too full! It was early to bed again, because we were going to Epcot the next day to finally meet Ana and Elsa, the one thing Emma Kate had been talking about for weeks. Stay tuned to see how that went!

QOTD: Have you ever been to Chef Mickey’s? Do you usually do character meals in Disney?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 3

I left off part 2 with us going to bed Thursday night. Friday morning, my dad and I drove to Tampa to look at homes with the realtor while my mom stayed behind with Emma Kate. They went to Disney Springs for the morning while we were gone, and then the playground after nap.

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Dad and I also looked at a couple daycares and found one I loved. I found a house that we ended up putting in an offer on that evening, and after stopping at the grocery store in Celebration and then picking up pizza, we headed to the pool and met up with my mom and EK.. Eating pizza at the splash pad area while EK played was a nice relaxing time, especially after a crazy day house hunting. (there may have been wine involved, too. Ssshhh)

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On Saturday we got up early and headed to Animal Kingdom. EK loves animals, so I was excited to take her on the safari ride in particular. We had fastpasses and headed there first thing. It was a cool morning so the animals were all out and about and active. We even got to hear the male lion roar which I had never heard before.

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After that we walked through some of the zoo like areas, and then headed to the boneyard playground where we stayed for over an hour. I loved that it was closed in so I didn’t have to worry about Emma Kate running off.

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Girlfriend must have gone down the slides 100 times.

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We waited for lunch at Flame Tree BBQ and ate down by the water. We also rode triceratop spin and I really can’t remember what else.

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Emma Kate was getting super tired and so we decided to head back to the resort after lunch so she could get in a good nap.

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During nap my dad and I walked around the resort and even went to the hot tub for a little while.

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We had chef Mickey’s brunch reservations at 2:30, so we loaded up and headed to the contemporary for a late lunch/early dinner. I was so curious to see how Emma Kate would do with the fab five after doing just so-so with the Winnie the Pooh characters.

Stay tuned for next time to see how brunch went with Mickey and the gang!

QOTD: Favorite thing to do at Animal Kingdom?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 2

I left off with us going to bed after a bit of stressful arrival day. The next day, we woke up ready to go to the Magic Kingdom. I couldn’t wait to show Emma Kate the castle and my favorite park. We decided to take things slow and let Emma Kate lead the way. I had a couple of fastpasses scheduled, but other than that there was nothing we just “had” to do.

We got to the park right after it opened, and after showing her the castle, headed to Fantasyland.

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We walked right on to Winnie the Pooh (she was so fascinated and slightly overwhelmed!) Then we did the little Mermaid, Dumbo, and Peter Pan.

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Then we had a fastpass for Enchanted Tales with Belle. My mom and I had done it before, but my dad (and of course EK) had not so I was excited for them to see.

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We sat on the front row and watched the little play, and Emma Kate got to get up and meet Belle and get a bookmark. She was really hesitant and didn’t smile, but she also didn’t cry. I call it a win!

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I was so happy Emma Kate’s first princess meeting was with my personal favorite!

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After seeing Belle, we decided to take a little break and get a snack. Emma Kate and I sat down and hung out in the grassy area in front of the castle while my mom and dad went to Starbucks to get us coffee and and a snack. Emma Kate enjoyed running around this little area that was away from the hustle and bustle.

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We sat in the grass and all took a little breather and ate (Emma Kate was again wanting to walk and not hold my hand or sit in the stroller so we had a few meltdowns all before 11:00.)

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After our little break, we decided to ride the train and see if Emma Kate would take a nap. She loves Thomas the train and enjoyed being on it, but it stops so much and for such long periods of time we quickly realized this was not going to work. We got off after a couple of stops, and decided to ride the people mover. After this, she was getting super cranky so I told mom and dad to go take a break and I would walk her around in the stroller and see if she would take a nap (she was so tired but fighting it at this point). I headed off from tomorrowland towards fantasyland by way of the walkway near space mountain, and Emma Kate pretty much fell asleep instantly, so I just kept walking. I made it all the way around the park, then stopped at a quiet corner in Liberty square behind the Christmas shop. I sat down on the ground while she slept. aaahhh.

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After awhile, my mom texted and said she would come meet me and we could switch spots, that dad was getting a snack in Tomorrowland and I could meet up with him there. So I walked back across the park after she arrived and had some fries with my dad. Soon after I got there, EK was awake so we met with my mom and did Buzz Lightyear. We got stuck on the ride for about ten minutes though! After that we decided to take another break in the grass until the 3:00 parade. This time we sat on the other side of the castle.

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Check out Emma Kate putting sunscreen on my dads knees Smile Bless it.

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We made it across the street for the parade and my parents ran into friends from high school! How crazy is that! They ended up chatting during the whole parade and I held Emma Kate up to see. Thankfully I lift weights because holding up a 31 pound child for the whole parade was pretty difficult! But she loved the parade and loved waving to the characters, especially when they waved back!

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We had a 3:30 reservation at Crystal Palace, so as soon as the parade was over we checked in. I was so curious to see how EK would do with the characters. To sum it up, it took her a little while to warm up to them but then she did really well. Tigger was her favorite.

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The issue here was that my super active child was over sitting still in her high chair after about seven minutes and wanted to run around the restaurant, which I wouldn’t allow. She ended up on the floor of Crystal Palace throwing a complete fit and I immediately picked her up and took her outside. I was really frustrated but tried to remind myself she is two, and is really overwhelmed and probably still wasn’t feeling great. I was just tired from chasing her around all day and dealing with the terrible twos. My mom finished eating and came outside to swap with me so I could go eat, but I still didn’t get as much as I wanted because I knew she was being difficult outside for my mom and I wanted to hurry up.

After we finished eating, we decided to leave, which Emma Kate did not want to do, so I apologize to anyone who was on Main street when I strapped my child in the stroller and power walked to the front of the park as she screamed. It was super fun for everyone I’m sure.

When we got back, we took EK to the playground right outside out building. We were on the first floor so it was nice to just walk right outside.

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The playground is near the water and has a great view of Disney Springs.

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I can’t remember exactly what we did that evening but I’m guessing just hung out in the room. Our original plan was to go to Hollywood Studios the next day, but since we got a contract on our house the day we left for Disney, we decided it would be best of my dad and I drove to Tampa to meet with my realtor and look at homes because we needed to make on offer on one quickly for all the closing dates to line up. My poor mom would be left with EK by herself, but I am thankful she volunteered so that I could get this handled since we were so close to Tampa!

More on that adventure in the next installment. Smile

QOTD: Did your/do your kids like the characters at Disney?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 1

I finally have some time to sit down and write out a recap out Emma Kate’s first Disney trip. Fair warning, it was a doozy. Poor EK was sick most of the trip and this made her cranky and miserable and everyone else cranky and miserable. I’m still so glad we got to go and experience it for the first time with her grandparents, but it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Read on anyway!

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Like I said EK had been sick with some sort of virus but her doctor put her on some medication just in case it was bacterial since we were going out of town. I picked her up after lunch from school, and we drove to my parents. Poor girl slept most of the way down. We hung out at my parents house that afternoon, and went to bed early. Emma Kate ended up having a rough night and neither of us got much sleep.

The next day, my dad and I had fun trying to pack all of our stuff and Emma Kate’s stroller in their car. We were able to get it all in, and we left for Florida around 10:00. We stopped in Biloxi and ate lunch, and soon realized it was going to be a long drive. Emma Kate slept about an hour but then fussed the whole rest of the way to Tallahassee where we were stopping for the night. After having trouble finding our hotel, we were all ready for a break so my mom and dad went to grab us some dinner and I stayed at the hotel with the sick one. It was yet again a night of little sleep for everyone (she did not want to sleep in the pack n play so ended up in bed with me, and the child does not lay still). We were optimistic though, and the next morning we hopped back in the car and headed for Orlando. EK slept about two of the four and a half hours, and cried the rest of the time which made for an interesting ride. Finally, we made it to my happy place, and pulled in to Saratoga Springs.

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Our room wasn’t ready yet, but that was ok so we decided to grab lunch in the food court and then take Emma Kate to the pool. Unfortunately, EK was tired of sitting so she lasted in the high chair all of 27 seconds before I had to take her outside. I ate about three bites of lunch (which would come to be a theme of the trip!) We walked around and played in the splash pad while my mom and dad ate lunch, then we all drove over to the super nice pool at the Paddock and changed there.

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I was really impressed with the play area. It was totally fenced in and had tables and chairs for the parents. There were two slides and it was zero entry all the way around. Emma Kate LOVED it and went down the slide about 50 times.

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After our rough start, I was so glad to see her having fun.

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Since we had a two bedroom villa, our original plan was to let my mom stay with Emma Kate while my dad and I went to the grocery store to get food for the trip. However, because our room wasn’t ready, we had to call an audible and just stay at the pool. We were all getting a little tired of waiting and finally at 4:00 our room was ready. We hurried over and unloaded, and then put Emma Kate in the stroller and walked to Disney Springs to activate our Annual Passes before heading to dinner at Whispering Canyon Café.

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Apparently all the running around at the pool wasn’t enough to tired her out, so EK wanted OUT of the stroller. This was a problem because there were people everywhere and she wanted to walk all on her own (another foreshadowing of the trip). We finally made it over to guest services, and ended up there for over an hour. They couldn’t get my parents Annual Passes to work for some reason, and so we just had to keep waiting. Meanwhile, Emma Kate had meltdown after meltdown because she wanted to go. We took turns going outside with her but she wanted me and only me so it made things difficult. We ended up missing our dinner reservations because we were there so long. EK was acting up so much that I was kind of glad. We ended up going to Earl of Sandwich and eating outside so EK could play in the splash pad and we could watch her.

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She had a LOT of fun with that (the kid loves water!) and made friends while she played. But, she had another meltdown when it was time to go. We walked back to Saratoga Springs ready for a good nights sleep before heading to the Magic Kingdom the next day.

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My dad and I ended up going to the grocery store after Emma Kate went to bed, and I was so tired I just wanted to hurry and get back and go to sleep, which is exactly what I did. We had gotten off to a bumpy start, but we were hopeful that in the light of the next day things would be magical!

QOTD: Have you ever had a Disney trip start off as not so magical?

Frozen Birthday Party

On Saturday, we had Emma Kate’s second birthday at our yogurt shop, Orange Leaf. I was not nearly as creative as last year, and everything was kind of last minute, but we still had a great time! I feel like having a party at our house last year was a “rookie new mom mistake”. It was super stressful not only getting things ready for the party, but deep cleaning the house and then cleaning up after. Having it at another location is the way to go!

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We had a little bit of food like donut holes, fruit, chex mix, and deviled eggs (and of course cake and frozen yogurt!) We kept it simple with bottled water and kool-aid in a cooler under the table. The Frozen decorations were bought at Wal-Mart, and the utensils, tablecloth, balloon holders, and a couple of the plastic trays I got at the Dollar Tree. We had a helium tank from Wal-Mart leftover from last year’s party, too.

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The birthday girl was way too busy to smile for pictures.

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Except when it comes to her daddy. She always smiles for him! her shirt is from Etsy, and her skirt is from Wal-Mart.

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Emma Kate was so good and sat in her chair and ate fruit, froyo, and cake the whole time!

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My mom made Emma Kate’s cake. After paying $45 for a cake last year, we decided on the homemade route and it came out great! We did a boxed mix but used homemade icing which was amazing. I will forever use this icing when I make anything! (It may or may not have had 4 sticks of butter in it!)

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Lately, Emma Kate has been all about singing the happy birthday song, so she was mesmerized when everyone started singing it to her.

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She wasn’t so sure about blowing out the candles, and to avoid a spit on cake, Bobby blew them out for her. We used food coloring for two of the layers of the cake, and I think it came out great! The Frozen characters on top are from Amazon, and the banner on the cake is from Etsy.

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This pictures cracks me up. Unfortunately I didn’t think to do a photo with all the kids and a bunch of them had already left, but we rounded up who was still there and tried to get a photo. The parents were all jumping around trying to get the kids to look. It was awesome.

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The little boy, Emma Kate, and the little girl on the right were all born within a week of each other! So fun to watch them grow over the past two years.

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We had a great time celebrating our girl and can’t believe she will be two in a couple of weeks. I really loved the low stress party we did this year. We just have so many other things going around, I honestly didn’t have any more energy to put into it than what I did. I still think she had a great time. I know I did.

QOTD: Favorite party theme or location? Do you prefer a party at your house or somewhere else?

Disney Trip Itinerary

As I have mentioned here before, we are taking a family trip to WDW at the end of October. My parents recently bought DVC, and the contract finally went through in the spring, so we planned our first trip for when the weather cools off just a touch. Having never been to Disney with a toddler, I am very aware that my “plans” may not end up happening, but I still wanted to (loosely) plan things so we at least have some sort of structure. As far as rides etc. at the parks, there is nothing that I just HAVE to do, except for the new Frozen ride and Soarin. This trip is about Emma Kate and what she wants to do. With that being said, here are our tentative plans.

Tuesday Oct. 25:

Depart Louisiana at nap time/after lunch/ Drive halfway, stop for the night in Tallahassee.

Wednesday Oct 26:

Drive the other four or so hours to Disney, arrive at Saratoga Springs around lunch. Check into 2 bedroom villa. Either go to the pool or Disney Springs after nap. Dinner at Rainforest Café at Disney Springs.

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Thursday Oct 27:

Magic Kingdom in the morning. Back to Saratoga for lunch and nap. Back to the Magic Kingdom in the afternoon for early Crystal Palace dinner (3:30 was the only reservation open). We will stay until around 6:30, then back to the resort for bedtime.

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Friday Oct 28:

Hollywood Studios in the morning. Animal Kingdom in the afternoon after nap. Mom and dad go to dinner alone at Narcoossees, Bobby and I watch Emma Kate. Not sure yet what we are going to do. Maybe Disney Springs to play in the water fountains and eat at Earl of Sandwich.

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Saturday Oct 29:

Magic Kingdom in the morning. After nap, come back to that area for Chef Mickey’s brunch, then more Magic Kingdom in the afternoon if Emma Kate is hanging in there. Bobby and I go to dinner alone that night, and my mom and dad watch Emma Kate. We will probably just go to EPCOT and eat around the Food and Wine festival.

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Sunday Oct 30:

EPCOT in the morning, nap at the resort then pool/grill/playground in the afternoon. We have some local friends coming over to BBQ. Disney Springs in the evening for ice cream.

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Monday Oct 31:

Get up and drive back to Louisiana. womp womp.

Thoughts on my plan? A lot of the afternoons are kind of open planning. We may end up back at parks certain days, and others we may not. We will just have to see what EK ends up enjoying the most. I am getting excited! We can make out fastpass+ reservations at the end of he month!

QOTD: Thoughts on my plan? What am I leaving out?

Excitement

Ok y’all, so there is a lot of negativity going around the social media world right now. I can barely stand to get on Facebook because it makes me so sad. Because of this, I felt like doing a fun not so serious post today to remind me of all the happy and excitement that is still going on. Maybe you can take a quick break from reality with me today. Get excited!

1.) Olympic Fever: I can’t even begin to put into words what a HUGE Olympics nerd I am. I will be glued to my TV the entire time. it really doesn’t matter what sport it is. I just can’t get enough! That being said the two I am most looing forward to are Women’s Gymnastics, and all the volleyball action. I have been deleting things from my DVR to make sure I have space to record all the things.

4.) Birthday girl: Recently my mom asked if I had started planning Emma Kate’s 2nd birthday party. Uhh….no? I can’t believe her birthday is in two months, so I need to get busy. What do you think would be a good theme for a 2 year old?

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Photo from her 1st birthday party

3.) News this week: I would really appreciate your prayers on Thursday. We are finding out some information that could be a huge deal for my little family on that evening. That’s all I can share right now, just know it could be really good, or really disappointing, so I’m going to think positive!

4.) 3 months until Disney: Three months from TODAY we will be checking into my happy place for five days of fun! This will be Emma Kate’s first visit, and I can’t wait to see Disney World through her eyes. So much planning still to be done! You can bet there will be some matching shirt action happening as well. Oh just wait my friends. We are so going to be “that family”.

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5.) Affiliate fun: The launch of my eBook is going well, and I would love to offer up something to anyone who is interested. I am opening up an affiliate program for my eBook, where you would earn 35% of every book sold through a unique link I would set up for you. If you are interested, please email me at heather@heatherslookingglass.com and put the word “affiliate” in the subject line. I would also provide you with some photos if you would like to set them up on your blog or use them in social media posts. Let me know!

QOTD: What Olympic event are you most looking forward to watching? Any party theme ideas? Anyone heading to Disney this fall?