Recap: runDisney’s Princess Weekend 2016 Enchanted 10k

Well, a late recap is slightly better than never, right? Things are finally slowing down enough in life for me to write up the amazing weekend I had at Walt Disney World back in February.

A year before this, I ran my first 10k at the 2015 Princess weekend, and Aaron’s anniversary gift to me while on that trip was the promise that in 2016 I’d complete the Glass Slipper Challenge at Princess weekend. The Glass Slipper Challenge involves running the 10k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday – sounds a little crazy, and it really kinda is.

I was also traveling to this race by myself, since three of us are coming back in less than two weeks for the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge. I booked a room at Disney’s Pop Century resort, found a roommate in a race group to help cover the expenses, and was ready to run these two races. Well…mostly. I’ll admit I was under-trained due to winter, and other commitments, and mostly being lazy. But I was still determined to finish both races.

Before the race, though, is the expo. I didn’t arrive until Friday morning, so I missed some of the craziness I’d heard reports of the day before, which mostly involved long lines and people fighting over official race merchandise. Friday’s version of the expo was still crowded, but more relaxed. I picked up my race bib and shirts, browsed the expo for any good deals, and then dropped everything off at my room before spending the late afternoon at Magic Kingdom.

Princess expoSee? No long lines on Friday!

The primary reason I was going to Magic Kingdom that evening was to carb load at my favorite WDW pasta spot: Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. I met up with an Ohio friend for dinner and stuffed myself with shrimp scampi before going back to my room to get a few hours of sleep before the 10k the next morning.

3am is never an easy time to wake up. Nothing about 3am feels natural or comfortable. And yet 3am is when I had to be awake to get dressed for the race, get out to the bus stop, and take the bus over to the race corrals for the 5:30am start time. Thankfully, race day adrenaline kept me upright, but I was also more excited to be meeting up with friends Jana, Megan, and Megan’s husband Al in corral D. This was Megan’s first 10k, and she looked awesome in her Ursula running costume, with her husband dressed as King Neptune.

Pre-race photoPre-race selfie!

As for me, I never miss a chance at a running costume for a runDisney race. My outfit was Vanellope from Wreck-it Ralph. My only regret on my costume was that I wore my visor so it wasn’t easy to see the candy charms in my hair.

Vanellope Enchanted 10kVanellope is a princess.

The weather was much warmer than 2015, but still cool and comfortable for the start. Just like the 10k a year before, it was a great countdown and race start.

 

I stuck with Megan for the first two miles, trying my best to provide motivation and support. She was probably sick of my thumbs up and motivational pep talks before the first mile. I’m not sure when I became “that cheery runner” but I can promise that I am not that cheery by mile four or so.

At her urging, I went ahead of her after mile two, and as I ran solo I quickly found myself remembering the route from the previous year and felt a surge of joy to be doing this race again. The skies were just beginning to brighten as we turned off the freeway and onto the off-ramp towards the back of Epcot.

One of the most awesome parts of running the Enchanted 10k is being able to run through the World Showcase section of Epcot. I’m slow enough that the sun is just coming up when I reach this area, and there’s a hazy glow to everything. It’s beautiful, and provides for more ideal selfie locations than you can imagine. Runners were pulling off to the side all along this area to get photos, and yes, I was one of them.

Epcot selfie

As we crossed the bridge from the France pavilion to the United Kingdom pavilion, we turned towards the exit to the Boardwalk. There’s a short area just outside of Epcot where a rope divides the path in two, with those exiting Epcot starting their loop around the Boardwalk area on one side, and those returning from that loop on the other side. This is such a high energy area as runners going in opposite directions high five each other across the rope and cheer on their fellow runners. It’s a great mental boost for mile four, when legs and lungs are starting to complain.

The second most awesome part of running the Enchanted 10k is the crowd that gathers around the Boardwalk resort. Lots of spectators are here, some with funny signs, some offering pretzels or Twizzlers (THANK YOU!), and all providing a lot of cheering and positive energy. Also? More beautiful views.

View from the BoardwalkNo filters here, people. Just a beautiful scene with Spaceship Earth peeking out in the background.

Unlike the previous year, I’ve run more than a 10k, so the distance wasn’t as challenging for me this time. But even still, that last mile does start to feel rough. Thankfully, much of that mile is spent back inside Epcot, winding past The Land and The Seas with Nemo and Friends, around Spaceship Earth, and then making the final turn for the finish line.

Spaceship Earth - Enchanted 10kThe finish line is soooooo close!

The gospel choir was positioned right before the final turn, and I remember they were singing something with the lyrics, “Thank God, thank God, thank God…” as I was approaching them. As I passed, I chimed in, “Thank God I’m almost done!” with my hands up in the air, then reached out to high-five one of the choir members.

And then there it was – the finish. Before I knew it, I was across the line, had my medal, my Powerade, my mylar blanket, and my snackbox. I spread out the blanket to sit down and guzzled my Powerade, all while gazing at the pretty medal I had just earned.

Enchanted 10k medal

The Enchanted 10k is packed full of fun things to see in only 6.2 miles that go by very quickly. I didn’t even mention the character stops along the way. I’m a slow runner, so I usually don’t stop to get photos with the characters because I worry I’ll fall behind. But it’s still fun to see the characters as I run by.

Of course, this was only race #1. I still had to do more than double that distance the next morning, but not before getting some photos with my medal.

Showing off the medalKylo Ren didn’t seem all that impressed.

Part two coming soon!



Escaping Everyday Stress at Castaway Bay

How’s 2016 been going so far, you ask? Well, the two words that best describe 2016 so far for me have been busy and stressful. I feel guilty using the word “busy” because I know that word is thrown around as an excuse for everything anymore, but it certainly does apply to the past couple of months.

Each week has been filled with long days at the computer for my job, with my work schedule extending into many evenings as well due to new projects and needs. I was appointed to a facilities planning committee for our school district, too, with meetings for that scattered in every few weeks. And then there’s our typical weekly evening rotations of therapy appointments, dance lessons, PTO meetings, etc. Not to mention grocery shopping, bill paying, laundry, and all of the other daily life tasks of being an adult.

It’s enough to leave anyone stressed.

As a family, we were all feeling a bit burned out and needed a weekend that didn’t involve catching up on chores or going to meetings. So we recently escaped our regular routine for two days and a night at Castaway Bay in Sandusky, Ohio. (Disclosure: I was provided with a one night stay at Castaway Bay.)

Castaway Bay

Castaway Bay is the indoor waterpark resort owned by Cedar Point. It’s a little over two hours away from Columbus, and is just one attraction of many in the Lake Erie Shores and Islands area. And while it isn’t the only indoor waterpark in that area, it remains our family favorite. Here are five reasons why we love Castaway Bay!

Lots of waterpark fun, with something for everyone.

The waterpark itself doesn’t look especially big when you first walk in, but there’s a surprising amount to do packed into that space. There’s the large Lookout Lagoon Family Funhouse area with water jets and buckets all over the multi-story climbing structure to engage in fun water battles, along with a 1,000 gallon tipping bucket that drenches everyone in front of the structure every two minutes.

Lookout LagoonSee the giant bucket at the top? It holds a LOT of water.

There are smaller open water slides for those less adventurous, and for those seeking a thrill there are three larger enclosed water slides and the Rendezvous Run water coaster that uses water jets to propel you uphill.

Morning water slidesThe smaller water slides are a part of Lookout Lagoon.

One side of the park is dedicated to the Castaway Bay Wave Pool, and on the other side there’s another pool that offers water basketball and floating animals you can climb on, as well as a toddler tide pool with gentle water elements to introduce the youngest family members to water fun.

Castaway Bay wave poolCordy loved the wave pool. (Mira is underwater behind her, diving under the wave.)

And when you’re tired and just want to relax, there’s the indoor/outdoor hot tub called The Grotto. Both Cordy and Mira found it fascinating that they could be outside in 25 degree weather in just their bathing suits, and yet be completely comfortable because they were in a pool of hot water.

The GrottoThe indoor section of the Grotto first thing in the morning.

There is literally something to do for every family member, from baby to grandparent and everyone in-between. Cordy and Mira spent the majority of their time in the wave pool, although they also enjoyed going down the water slides and climbing on the turtle and dolphin in the other pool. Me? I spent ample time in the hot tub, soaking away my stress.

No worries about deep water.

My favorite part of Castaway Bay’s waterpark is that no water element is over four feet deep. Our kids aren’t the strongest swimmers, but knowing they can touch the bottom with their heads still above water in any pool helps me relax and be less of a helicopter mom. They could splash and play and go to different parts of the waterpark without me hovering over them at all times. I could enjoy myself without my anxiety on full alert, entirely relaxed.

In the poolIn the deep end, Cordy had no worries with touching the bottom of the pool.

Life vests are also plentiful and available for the smaller kids, and the lifeguards are at the top of their game when it comes to making sure anyone below a certain height has their life vest on for safety before entering any pool area.

The on-site food is great!

At Castaway Bay, you won’t go hungry. There’s Mango Mike’s with it’s enormous breakfast buffet,  and next to it is Ebb & Eddy’s quick service dining, including ice cream and Starbucks coffee. (I need my Starbucks.) We’re big fans of the gigantic ice cream scoops at Ebb & Eddy’s. Would you believe this is the “small” ice cream cup for $2.50?

Giant ice creamMoose tracks ice cream – yum!

A new feature since the last time we visited is Quaker Steak & Lube, a chain table service restaurant featuring amazing wings, burgers, and a wide variety of sauces. The food was delicious, the service was outstanding, and the decor was fascinating to look at. It’s a restaurant I’d like to visit again soon.

Quaker Steak & LubeI was secretly glad we weren’t sitting directly under that car.

You can meet your favorite Peanuts characters.

If you’re a fan of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the Peanuts gang, you’ll find there’s no shortage of your favorite characters around the resort. There are random encounters with the characters around the resort lobby, as well as scheduled times for meet and greets with Snoopy and friends at Camp Snoopy.

LinusEarly morning hug from Linus (still in his PJs!)

The night we were there, they had a dance party with the Peanuts characters, and then later in the evening we went back to Camp Snoopy for the Peanuts family movie and Story Time with Snoopy.

Time with SnoopySnoopy also ends the evening with hugs, too.

There are plenty of non-water activities, too.

Need a break from swimming? There are plenty of other family activities happening throughout the day at Castaway Bay. At Camp Snoopy, kids can do free arts and crafts, color their own Castaway Bay t-shirt or towel, or join in on a dance party or karaoke. On some evenings, cookies and hot chocolate are provided in the lobby before bed. And for the older kids, there’s a large arcade full of ticket games and traditional arcade games waiting to keep them busy.

Camp Snoopy t-shirt coloringHard at work coloring her t-shirt.

Beyond the fun, the rooms are moderately large with comfortable queen beds and a mini-fridge. We loved the view of the water from our room’s balcony.

Castaway Bay balconyView from our screened-in private balcony.

If you’re not staying the night at Castaway Bay (or choosing to swim more after checkout on your last day there), there are lockers available in the waterpark to hold your stuff. Also, no beach towels are needed unless you really want to bring them – Castaway Bay provides all of the towels.

There may be larger indoor waterpark resorts in the Lake Erie area, but Castaway Bay is the perfect size for our family. They have plenty to keep everyone busy, there’s never too long of a wait for any water slide, and the resort goes above and beyond to help you relax and enjoy the time together without going too far from home. We splashed, we laughed, we hugged Snoopy, and for the first time in weeks I went two days without a stress headache.

Giveaway!

Want to experience Castaway Bay for yourself? I have four waterpark day passes to give to one lucky reader! These passes will admit you and three friends or family members into the waterpark for a single day – hotel stay and transportation is not included.

To enter, just leave a comment below telling me your favorite thing to do at a waterpark. Are you a thrill seeker and go for the water slides, or do you prefer to lounge in the wave pool or the hot tub? Entries will be accepted until 11:59pm on Friday, March 18th, one entry per household. After that date, one winner will be randomly selected and contacted. Winner has 48 hours to respond or another winner may be selected.

Good luck and happy swimming!

Castaway Bay lobby



Summer’s Here, and Cedar Point Is Waiting For You

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary one-night stay and park tickets by Cedar Point. All of the fun was an easy joint endeavor.

Can you feel it? Summer is finally here. I can practically hear the Phineas and Ferb song “Summer (Where Do We Begin)” right now. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go take a listen.) I’m looking forward to the slower pace, no homework, and more travel just as much as the kids are.

Of course, here in Ohio, one of the first signs of summer is our amusement parks opening for the season. My family loves to go to Cedar Point to enjoy the warm days with the cool Lake Erie breezes. Cedar Point opened on May 9, and while I wasn’t able to get there for opening weekend, we did have the chance to go recently.

Hotel Breakers

One of the big changes this year is the renovation of their main resort hotel, Hotel Breakers.

Hotel Breakers

While I’ve always enjoyed previous stays at Hotel Breakers, I must confess that the hotel was starting to show its age (it opened in 1905 as the “largest and greatest hotel on the Great Lakes.”), so a facelift was in order. However, Cedar Point went far beyond a facelift and gave the hotel a complete deluxe makeover! Everything was renovated to make the space brighter, more open, and more modern, while still retaining the rich history of this landmark.

The lobby has a fresh new look, but I love the classic carousel horses on display, too.

Hotel Breakers carousel horses Beautiful carousel horses on display

Hotel Breakers lobbyThe historic photo of Breakers stretches along the wall of the check-in desk.

There’s a new area off of the lobby that has a Starbucks and a bar on the ground level, and a spectacular view up into the other floors.

Hotel Breakers towerIt was stunning to view in-person.

The rooms still have a lakeside aura to them, but the color scheme and decor has been updated to incorporate the amusement park feel, too. I especially love the bright colored comforters and the photo headboards on the beds!

Hotel Breakers headboards

It wasn’t just the inside that was new. There was a new exterior, too. The front entrance has been completed remodeled to remove the steps, and on the other side, new pools and lounging areas were installed, overlooking the beach and Lake Erie. We spent some time in the evening around the firepits, enjoying the cool breeze after the rain passed through.

Hotel Breakers firepits The carousel horse theme can be found throughout the hotel.

Other amenities include two pools and Jacuzzis, access to the Cedar Point Beach and Boardwalk, a gift shop, arcade, exercise room, three restaurants, Early Entry (access to some of the biggest rides and coasters before the park opens to the general public), discounted Cedar Point admission tickets, complimentary Wi-Fi and the comfort and convenience of staying right next to the rides and roller coasters of Cedar Point.

It was easy to fall asleep that night in the luxuriously comfortable beds, dreaming of the fun we had planned for the next day.

Cedar Point

One of the best perks of staying at a Cedar Point hotel for us is the one-hour early access for resort guests. That extra hour gives you the chance to ride some of the best rides with very short lines. I don’t think we waited longer than 5 minutes for any ride during that first hour.

We were there right at the start of early entry, and chose GateKeeper as our first ride of the day. Mira was FINALLY tall enough to ride it, and Cordy decided she was now brave enough to take on this winged coaster.

Cedar Point GateKeeper

The result? They both loved it! GateKeeper is two years old now, but still one of the best roller coasters out there. It’s a smooth ride that provides a thrilling experience – and it’s a slightly different experience depending on which side you sit on. You’ll have to decide for yourself which side is the best ride, but for me, I prefer the left wing.

Mira is still our Ride Warrior, willing to try just about any ride out there. But while she isn’t lacking in bravery, she is lacking in height. She was just a tiny bit too short to go on the new ride for this year, Rougarou. The standing coaster Mantis was taken down last year, and Rougarou rose from its ashes. It uses the same track, but has a new floorless design, with your feet dangling a short distance from the track below you. (There’s a video at the link I provided.) The height requirement for that one is 54″ though, and she’s about 53.75″. She took the news well, however, and can’t wait to ride it later this year when she’s grown just a bit more.

She wasn’t about to give up on new-to-her coasters, though, and so we did seek out the other 52″ coaster, Maverick. This is probably the twistiest coaster we’ve ever experienced. The name fits well – it feels like being on an out-of-control horse trying to twist and kick and throw you off. But it’s a lot of fun, too, including a speed launch up into a hill mid-ride. Even Cordy liked this one, and I was sure she would be too scared to ride it.

Cedar Point Maverick

While we love the thrill rides, there’s a lot more at Cedar Point than just roller coasters. There are plenty of family rides that are still exciting without being too scary, like Pipe Scream or the Monster in the Midway area.

Cedar Point - Monster

And there are plenty of classic rides, too, like the Tilt-a-Whirl, Antique Cars, and the historic (1920) racing carousel, Cedar Downs.

Cedar DownsYeah, I didn’t win that race.

For the little kids, there are plenty of little rides made just for them in Planet Snoopy, Camp Snoopy, and Kiddie Kingdom. Our two have now outgrown most of the kid rides in these areas (sniff, sniff), but thankfully they haven’t outgrown their love of Snoopy and the Peanuts gang.

Cedar Point Snoopy

They also haven’t outgrown the petting zoo in Frontiertown. But really, who wouldn’t want to pet fluffy animals?

Cedar Point Petting Zoo

It was so much fun to spend the weekend at Cedar Point again! There’s simply too much to do in a single day, so each visit gives us the chance to try something new or revisit old favorites.

We’re already planning a return in the fall for HalloWeekends and BloggyCon (and stay at Hotel Breakers again, of course), and Aaron and I will be there again in two weeks for the Cedar Point Run & Ride 10k and Half Marathon. I’m hoping that we can find time in our busy summer schedules to sneak another family visit in before school starts again.

It’s easy to day-trip a visit to Cedar Point from Columbus, or spend a few days there for a relaxing, close-to-home staycation. Check out their website for hotel reservations and deals on tickets to the roller coaster capital of the world!



Escaping Winter At Castaway Bay

I’ve been experiencing the winter blues lately. I’m tired, I have no energy, and my brain is generally mush. I love snow, but this year it came at the worst possible time. After being in a boot for six weeks to rest my injured foot, I finally was released to run again right about the time we got enough snow and ice to make running nearly impossible outdoors. And it then stayed cold enough to keep that small amount of snow and ice from melting for weeks. With my first 10k getting closer, I didn’t want to try to run on the ice and risk a new injury. Finally being given permission to run, but then being forced inside on the treadmill was enough to push me over the edge into a full-on winter slump.

I needed a break. We all needed a break, honestly. The kids were tired of being stuck in the house, Aaron also couldn’t run as easily outdoors. Even with my fondness for snow, we were all wishing for a warm getaway, even for a couple of days. Our solution: we packed everyone up in the car and made the short drive to Castaway Bay in Sandusky, OH for a warm mini-vacation in an indoor waterpark.

Castaway Bay is a part of the Cedar Point amusement park property. We love Cedar Point in the summer, and Castaway Bay is a close-to-home getaway for the colder months. (Although it’s open year-round.) It’s a cozy 82 degrees in the resort, and there are lots of activities to keep the kids entertained.

The main attraction, of course, is the waterpark. There are pools and waterslides for all ages and heights, a wave pool for the whole family, play areas featuring cargo-net crossings, an indoor-outdoor hot tub, a water roller coaster, and the multi-story Lookout Lagoon Family Funhouse with its 1,000 gallon bucket to drench everyone underneath.

soakedan early-morning drenching

This waterpark is slightly smaller than some of the other indoor waterparks we’ve been to, but it’s still a favorite. Why? Because none of the pool areas are deeper than four feet, making it safer for my novice swimmers to play without me watching their every move. (Mira still wears a life jacket by choice in the wave pool, but that’s because she’s only 4″ taller than four feet. Cordy is five feet tall, so she’s tall enough to just stand up in any pool.) Lifeguards are everywhere, too. There’s also a tightly controlled single entrance/exit to help make sure your kids don’t wander off. Since all of the waterpark attractions are arranged closely together, it’s fairly easy to keep an eye on kids without sticking right next to them.

Castaway Bay

Cordy and Mira were brave enough to ride the water roller coaster this year, and they loved it. Yes, a water roller coaster – you’re propelled up hills in your two-person raft by powerful water jets, with a couple of pitch black tunnels to make it even more exciting.

water roller coaster It’s blurry, but that’s Cordy and Mira riding the coaster.

My favorite part would have to be the indoor-outdoor hot tub. It’s so relaxing to sit in the warm water in the outdoor section as the snow falls around you. Sorry, no photos since I was too worried about dropping my phone to take it into the hot tub. Cordy and Mira spent most of their time in the wave pool, when they weren’t shooting down water slides.

The rooms at Castaway Bay are very comfortable and quiet, with two queen beds, a mini-fridge, balcony (which didn’t get used in 10 degree weather), and a large bathroom with plenty of room to hang up wet bathing suits.

room at Castaway Bay

Beyond the waterpark, there’s also an arcade filled with video games and ticket games, a fitness center, a craft and child activity center, shops, and visits from the Peanuts characters.

Castaway Bay arcadeMinecraft sheep from a claw game

Meeting Lucy at Castaway Baymeeting Lucy from Peanuts

For food, there are two restaurants currently open, with a new restaurant coming soon. We enjoyed Mango Mike’s breakfast buffet and ate until we were stuffed. Eggs, sausage gravy and biscuits, pancakes, bacon, fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt – it was a huge feast! Then we relaxed by the ginormous fire in the lobby before another swim session in the waterpark.

 Acting silly by the fireAnd acted a little goofy, too.

Our trip to Castaway Bay was a much-needed break from winter, and we had so much fun swimming and relaxing together. The resort is small enough that we never worried about getting lost or letting the kids out of sight for a few minutes, and the service from staff was warm and friendly. It was the perfect way to recharge my spirit and get me back on track – especially when the outside looked like this:

snowy outsideSorry bird. It’s warm and cozy in here.

A special offer for you!

The package we enjoyed from Castaway Bay is now available for you, too, with the special “Room, Waterpark, and Breakfast Buffet” package. If you use the special promo code BLOG when booking your stay, you’ll have access to the special rate starting at $149/night. That includes a standard room, waterpark passes for everyone in your room (which are good for the day you arrive and the next day), and the breakfast buffet for everyone the next morning. You won’t find a better value anywhere else!

Reservations can be made online at CastawayBay.com or by calling (419)627-2106.

Castaway Bay waterpark

Whether it’s summer or winter, I love going up to Lake Erie for a weekend getaway. I also can’t wait until warmer days arrive, and Cedar Point opens with the newly renovated Hotel Breakers and their new roller coaster, Rougarou!

Hotel BreakersIs it summer yet?

Disclosure: We were invited to Castaway Bay to write about our experiences. Room, waterpark and breakfast were provided, but all other expenses, including travel, dinner, and late-night ice cream, were paid for by us.



My Best Moments of 2014

Yeah, you may have already moved on into 2015, but I’m still looking back and reflecting on the previous year and all that happened. Despite some illnesses and injuries, 2014 had a lot of good moments for me, too. We went on some fantastic trips, had breakthroughs in overcoming challenges, and enjoyed spending time together as a family.

Here are some of the highlights of the last year, in chronological order (because I simply would have a hard time ranking them):

Snow day fun – We started the year with a polar vortex, which Cordy and Mira loved because it meant plenty of days off of school. Despite needing to still work while they were home for snow days, we managed to work in a little bit of fun, too, like performing the boiling water sublimation trick in below zero weather. It was the viral challenge of the winter, before the ice bucket challenge became the viral challenge of the summer.

We tried the boiling water trick, too. How often do we get this chance? #polarvortex #cold

A video posted by Christina McMenemy (@mommystory) on

Castaway Bay – In early February, we were getting a little tired of the snow and cold, which was remedied by an overnight trip to Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay. It was close to zero outside, but 82 degrees inside. I like that Castaway Bay has no pool areas deeper than four feet, so I felt safe letting my kids play without needing to hover over them. It was also a fun experience to go into the outdoor portion of the hot tub – we were still toasty warm in the water, while our hair was frozen in the near-zero temperature with snow all around. Even though it was a short trip, it was just what we needed to recharge.

Castaway BayAnd Cordy grew more confident in the water.

Walt Disney World – Probably one of the highlights of the year for Cordy and Mira was traveling to Walt Disney World in March. I went for the Type-A Bootcamp, and brought the family along to have some fun as well. The one thing they wanted more than anything was to meet Anna and Elsa. I’ve still never written up the full experience, but let me tell you it was a four hour wait in line to see the famous sisters in the Norway pavilion of Epcot. (Thankfully they’ve since moved them to Magic Kingdom and have FastPasses available now.) Aaron earned all the dad points by waiting in line for us, while I kept the kids entertained with the Agent P game around the World Showcase. Despite the long wait and terrible sunburn that Aaron endured, even he agreed it was worth it when our two dopplegangers met their royal inspirations.

Anna, Anna, Elsa, and ElsaAnna, Anna, Elsa, and Elsa

It was also funny that during our wait, other tourists were coming up to us and asking if they could take pictures of Cordy and Mira. One super smart mom didn’t want to wait in the line for her toddler daughter, so she told her daughter that Cordy and Mira were the “official” young Anna and Elsa and had her daughter pose with them for a photo. I wanted to buy that mom a drink for her clever thinking. But really, she saved herself the need for a drink by avoiding that line.

Disneyland and Disney Social Media Moms Conference – As soon as we arrived home from our Walt Disney World trip, I had to quickly unpack and then repack to leave one week later for California to attend the Disney Social Media Moms conference at Disneyland. I received my invite for that conference after we had already booked our trip to Walt Disney World, so I wasn’t able to bring the entire family with me. But my brother-in-law and sister-in-law came along with me instead, and gave me a chance to spend more time with family members that I don’t see often enough.

Disneyland #DisneySMMoms

The entire conference was fantastic! I still have posts in draft that I want to finish, telling more of what I learned there. As a true Disney geek, I loved learning more about the parks, the company, and how hard they work to go above and beyond for their guests. Yes, Disney is a media giant that wants your money, like any other business, but the difference is that they really want to make sure that you walk away from the experience feeling that parting with your money was completely worth it. And some of their new social initiatives are gaining steam as they use their influence to make a difference and give back to communities. (More on that soon – I’m planning to take what I’ve learned from them to launch a virtual book drive for our school district in the next week or so.)

It was also at this conference where I found my love of running again, and completed a 2 mile fun run presented by runDisney. I also discovered I love wearing costumes to run races.

Fun Run Final Turn #DisneySMMoms

Mira’s birthday at Cedar Point – Mira’s birthday usually falls on Memorial Day weekend, and she often resents that her birthday is so close to a holiday. It makes it hard to throw a party that weekend, since many families already have plans for the three-day weekend. This year, we were invited to Cedar Point that weekend for a blogger event. I mentioned that we were making the trip a birthday event for Mira, and our super generous and thoughtful contact at Cedar Point arranged for a Dairy Queen birthday cake for her.

Cedar Point birthdayThat’s a good kind of shocked look.

Ice cream cake combined with riding her favorite rides and coasters for two days equaled a very happy Mira. She still talks about how that was her best birthday yet. I have no idea how we’ll be able to top that this year!

BlogHer ’14 in San Jose – This was a solo trip for me to attend my ninth BlogHer conference. While it is a work trip, it’s also my annual chance to see some of my colleagues and blog friends in person. My very first BlogHer conference was in San Jose, so it was fun to return to where it all started this year.

BlogHer '14With some of the people I met at my very first BlogHer!

Halloween – I enjoyed going out with the kids for trick-or-treat, but I also was thrilled to get a night off to go out to a citywide Halloween party without the kids. Aaron and I had a great time dressing up for Highball.

Highball HalloweenMerida and Captain America keeping High Street safe.

BlogHerPRO – In December, I went back to California (three times in one year – a new record!) to attend the BlogHerPRO conference. Only this time, I was asked to be a speaker. This was my first time being a speaker for a session, and while I was nervous being up in front of a small crowd, it wasn’t bad at all. I might even want to do it again in the future.

So what does 2015 hold for us? I’m not sure yet, but if it’s at least as good as 20014, I can’t wait to find out!

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