Wordless Wednesday - Parades

Happy Wordless Wednesday!  Today is a look at a few of my favorite parades around the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.  First up, the Festival of Fantasy Parade.

Next, we have the Main Street Electrical Parade.

And, tonight we'll end with the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade which can be seen as part of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party on select nights in November and December.

Like what you see here?  Then check out more fun posts on the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!

Fat Thighs

Yup.  The title says it all on this one.  Last week I had someone make a comment about my "fat thighs."  It doesn't matter who the comment came from, but it happened.  I can't say I'm surprised or that I even disagree, but while I tried to smile and play it off - the sting was still there.  Over the past few days I've let the comment stew around in my head and I've gone through several stages of processing my feelings on the comment.

At first, I was disgusted.  I wanted to run and hide in a comfy pair of sweat pants, but that feeling only lasted a few minutes.  Then it turned to anger.  How dare someone make a comment like that?  I guess body shaming isn't all that new or uncommon, but it still doesn't make it right.  Why is it that so many people feel better by tearing others down?  How much more amazing could all of us be if we devoted that energy to building each other up instead?

Then I hit my final emotional stage - joy.  That's right. . .joy.  You want to know what these "fat thighs" can do?  They're currently training for a half marathon.  In fact, my race docket includes a 10K, 10-miler, and 2 half-marathons this year among some other shorter fun runs.  These "fat thighs" chase two busy little boys around the house, the playground, and the neighborhood while we spend quality time playing as a family.  And these "fat thighs" can rock a pair of 4 inch heels.

So ladies, the next time someone makes a comment about "fat thighs" or any other comment that's meant to be body shaming, simply smile, embrace it, and show your awesome!

<mic drop>

Kristi, you just turned 32. . .what are you going to do now?

I'm planning a trip to Disney World!

That's right, the Reppe family is headed back to Walt Disney World this fall!  For my birthday, my husband gave me tickets to Disney and told me he had already arranged our hotel and the time off of work for me.  I'm always excited for a Disney vacation, and the fun of planning now gets to begin again.

One of my favorite things about Walt Disney World is that I feel like there is always something new to explore.  This trip will be no different!  Even though our last visit was just November 2015, there are several things that will be "new" on this trip - whether it's for me or to the resort in general.

  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - In all of my Disney trips, I've never been in fall to enjoy the Halloween celebrations.  This year, we'll be there the week of Halloween and we will get the chance to enjoy this fun hard ticketed event.
  • Wine and Dine 10K - This isn't official until registration tomorrow, but I'm going to try to get in for the newest runDisney race which was just added to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend.  
  • Minnie's Seasonal Dine at Hollywood and Vine - This new character dinner opened last year and we're hoping to score reservations as part of the Fantasmic Dinner Package.
  • Nighttime at Animal Kingdom - This spring, Disney's Animal Kingdom will be debuting several evening activities including Rivers of Light and a night safari ride.  The addition of night activities at Animal Kingdom means that this already fun-filled park will pack even more smiles and entertainment.
  • Epcot Updates - By our visit in late fall, there will be two big attractions unveiled at Epcot.  Soarin' is currently undergoing a major renovation that will expand your flight beyond California to a trip around the world.  And Norway is getting new guests from Arendelle with a ride and a royal meet and greet.
And one of the best parts of this trip - it will be our first multigenerational with my parents joining us and the boys!  Mouse ears on everyone!  Let's get started!!

Wordless Wednesday - Unforgettable

Walt Disney World's marketing campaign this year is "Unforgettable Happens Here" and that certainly is the case.  I've been to Walt Disney World numerous times and each time I'm still blown away by the priceless memories created.  Just check out these smiles from Brody on some of our trips over the past few years!

Check out other unforgettable moments on the Focused on the Magic Blog Hop!

Focused on the Magic

Zootopia Review

When we headed out to the movie theatre on Sunday afternoon, I'll admit that I wasn't sure how much I was going to enjoy Zootopia.  I had heard the story line - small town bunny heads to the big city to make the world a better place.  I knew as a Disney movie that it would be good, but frankly I felt like it was also going to be a little "been there, seen that."  And I was wrong.

I think Zootopia may have one of the best story lines of any animated Disney movie. . .ever.  The movie begins with a small town bunny, Judy Hops, who has a big dream to become a police officer in the city of Zootopia.  Through her hard work, Judy graduates from the program and heads to city center to take on her new role.  Zootopia is a society that says anyone can be what they want to be and predator and prey live together in peace and harmony, or so it seems.  Recently, missing mammal cases have been coming into the Zootopia Police Department.  But while most cops are working the missing mammal cases, Judy is stuck serving as a "meter maid."  It's on the street where she meets Nick - a sly fox.  In an unusual turn of events, this unlikely pair will have to work together to find the missing mammals, save Judy's job, and unlock a conspiracy in the city.

The writing throughout the movie is clever and enjoyable for adults as well as appropriate for kids.  One of my favorite scenes was when Judy and Nick visit the DMV to get information on a vehicle registration.  They are in a big hurry, so imagine Judy's shock and horror when she opens up the door and finds the counter manned by sloths.  Nick, enjoying every minute of this debacle, encourages the slow work of the sloths by telling jokes along the way.  I don't know about your own personal experiences, but there are very few experiences I dread as much as a visit to the DMV; this scene was all too real and very funny!

The best part of the movie though is the overall takeaway message.  Throughout the movie, characters are implored to see past our own stereotypical opinions and get to know who the real person is beneath the surface.  Judy and Nick may seem like total opposites, but once they get to know each other, they find that they have much more in common than they ever imagined.  In a larger sense, the whole Zootopia community must learn that they fear and hate can easily divide them, but compassion and understanding are what will ultimately make them stronger.  While young children will enjoy the cartoon characters and humor, adults will find the writing witty and the message one that they can reinforce with children of all ages.  If you haven't seen Zootopia, plan to head to theaters soon and catch the family fun!    

Things That May Terrify Your Kids in Walt Disney World

When people think of a Disney vacation, phrases like "the happiest place on Earth" and images of smiling children often come to mind.  But parents with small children be warned - parts of Walt Disney World may terrify your children.  I don't say this to discourage your vacation or send you into pure panic mode.  The purpose today is to simply tell it to you like it is so you can be prepared for an all too often reality when traveling with toddlers and preschoolers.  Let's face it. . .this age group thrives on routines and familiarity.  So, what would possibly freak them out about larger than life characters, tremendous crowds, loud noises, change in nap and bedtime schedules, and dark rides?

Probably the biggest terrifying incident we've dealt with has been focused around rides.  On our first two trips to Walt Disney World with Brody, he loved all rides and experiences.  Then he turned three. Rides that used to be fan favorites as a toddler are suddenly terrifying as a preschooler.  In case you weren't aware - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh can cause shrieks of terror that rival anything you've ever heard before.  So what was the common theme between the rides that scared him - each of them started in the dark.  It didn't seem to matter if the characters inside were fearsome pirates or cuddly storybook bears, the slow ride with a dark start was not something he was interested in.  Tip - Try showing your children these rides ahead of time on YouTube or on the Disney Parks Vacation Planning DVD.  By seeing the inside of the ride from the safety of their own home, your child may be brave enough to face some of these when they get to the park.

Another common experience that terrifies involves meeting their favorite characters.  It's not uncommon for small children to be frightened of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny at the mall so it shouldn't be any surprise that a 6 1/2 foot mouse would freak them out.  We were fortunate that our children have never been afraid of the characters in Disney. . .at least not yet.  Don't be surprised if one trip everything is fine and then on the next trip they won't get close to them.  Tip - Don't push your kids.  I know how frustrating it is to wait in a 45 minute line and then get to the front and find them unwilling to meet the character.  Just smile and say "OK.  How about a wave this time and maybe next time we'll get closer for a high five or a hug?"

Some of the shows have also scared our children.  Even fun, musical shows like Mickey's Philarmagic are not always as "kid-friendly" as they may seem.  The dark room and loud noises can push a child that's already on sensory overload over the proverbial edge.  Tip - If you have a pair of headphones, these can act as a great noise buffer for super sensitive little ears.

With everything in Walt Disney World, remember it's best to go at the pace of your young child.  Trust me, it's not worth fighting or trying to force a child to do something even though you've spent a small fortunate to create this magical experience.  The trip will be much more enjoyable for you and your child if you let them lead the way on deciding what their comfort level.  I've been on many Disney trips in my lifetime and the only thing that is consistent in all of them is that they are never the same.  So don't let a tough trip with a toddler or preschooler derail future plans and don't worry too much about your trip ahead of time.  Relax and enjoy - after all, you're in the most magical place on Earth!

Wordless Wednesday - Disney Royalty

Meeting Disney princesses is something that I always loved as a little girl.  I never dreamed how much my young princes would enjoy the experience too!  Over our visits, both Brody and Caleb have been simply enamored with Disney royalty!  Memory Maker at Walt Disney World is a perfect way to capture all of those precious smiles with your little ones.

Don't forget to click the button below to join the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic to find more great Disney photography and tips from some of my favorite bloggers!
Focused on the Magic

OCMD St. Patty's Day Boardwalk 5K Recap

This past weekend I ran the St. Patty's Day Boardwalk 5K in Ocean City, Maryland for the first time. Like you would expect from a St. Patrick's Day race, leprechauns and green costumes dotted the course as runners and walkers alike were out for a good time.  And I didn't do this race by myself - my mom signed up for this event as her very first 5K!  Prior to heading into town for the run, I grabbed a bagel from the shop down the street and, wouldn't you know, the bagel had the luck of the Irish with it.

Race day morning was perfect weather for a 5K by the beach - it was in the low 50s and overcast.  The 5K begins and ends at Shenanigan's on 4th Street and the Boardwalk.  There was a DJ outside of the restaurant getting the crowd energized before the start of the race and even a roaming leprechaun around for pictures and high fives.  Even the water they were handing out was in the St. Patrick's Day spirit and was dyed green.

One of my favorite things about running at the beach would be the flat terrain.  When compared to the hills that I run on at home, I feel like I'm just cruising along during these races.  After beginning at 4th Street, the race course started heading South to the pier and then around the tram stop at the inlet.  After making the turn, the course took runners north on the boardwalk to 16th Street where there was once again a 180 degree turnaround and then back south to end at 4th Street.  Running along the Ocean City boardwalk was beautiful with the sand and the water creating the perfect backdrop!  I've been training for my half-marathon using my run/walk intervals at home so I did that for the 5K - 90 seconds running, 60 seconds walking - and finished with a pace of 11:53 minutes per mile.  I felt good at the end of the race and hope that I can keep that kind of pace for my first half-marathon in less than 2 months.

At the end of the race, all finishers received a ribbon and each runner received a free drink.  If you head to the beach to run this race, be sure to stick around town afterwards for the St. Patrick's Day parade which takes place the same day as the run and begins at noon.  The parade runs from 61st Street to 45th Street along Coastal Highway.  While I didn't quite find a pot of gold that day, I did find a good time and festive event!  

Lumiere invites you to "Be Our Guest" for a Wine & Dine Challenge!

Big menu changes to Wine and Dine Weekend!
Now we invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair, as runDisney proudly presents. . .your new challenge!

runDisney announced major changes to the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon weekend today after rumors have been swirling for some time and registration was pushed back two weeks.  So what has changed?  Just about everything.  While Wine and Dine weekend has always been a unique event for runDisney, it now takes on a much more traditional race weekend look.  Mickey's Holiday 5K (notice the change from Jingle Jungle 5K??) has been pushed to Friday which means that the race expo will now open on Thursday.  Also on Friday, an additional day of Kid's Races have been added.  

Brand new for 2016 - the Wine and Dine 10K!  Join Chef Remy from Ratatouille for an all new 10K race on Saturday morning.  Since the weekend has added a 10K race, a new challenge is also on the menu of appetizing races.  Lumiere's Two-Course Challenge invites runners to finish the 10K on Saturday and the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon.  Runners who complete both races and had registered for the challenge will receive a special finisher medallion for the challenge.  And the runDisney changes didn't stop there.  In addition to adding the 10K and the challenge, the start time of the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon was moved to 5:30AM on Sunday morning.  This half-marathon was the last nighttime race left standing on the runDisney calendar after the Tower of Terror 10-miler and the Expedition Everest Challenge both disappeared in recent years so this news was controversial to say the least in the runDisney community.

While reaction to the changes has been mixed, I'm willing to guess that the new challenge and 10K will sell out very quickly and we'll once again see all races that weekend reach capacity, even if the half-marathon itself doesn't sell out in under 30 minutes again!  Even though this year will certainly be a very different experience, check out my coverage of the events from last year for a taste of Wine and Dine weekend.  Bon Appetite!

Registering for Wine and Dine Weekend
Wine and Dine Expo 2015
Jingle Jungle 5K 2015
Wine and Dine Half-Marathon (well. . .not really a half-marathon) 2015

Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop - Flowers & Gardens

Happy Wordless Wednesday!  Today's blog hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic takes us to Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival.  This is a great opportunity to see the beauty of Epcot and now also features food and beverage kiosks unique to this festival.  And if you enjoy running Disney as much as I do, you can combine the Flower and Garden Festival with Star Wars Half-Marathon Weekend events.  If you happen to be in Walt Disney World over the next few weeks check out this beautiful event!

Race on over to Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival!
Don't forget to click on the button below to visit other fabulous Disney loving blogs!

Focused on the Magic

Epcot on a Rainy Day

Springtime in Epcot means the return of the annual Flower and Garden Festival.  With those flowers, also comes spring rain showers.  Regardless of what time of year you travel to Walt Disney World, the Florida climate might throw a rainy day your way.  No need to despair though!  There is still a lot of fun to have in the parks despite the rain clouds.  On a rainy day, I recommend heading to Epcot to find plenty of activities - many of which take place inside!

Unlike the other parks, a good number of Epcot attractions are actually located inside large pavilions. You can easily spend over an hour in several of the pavilions in Future World.  The Land pavilion is home to Soarin' and the Living with the Land ride.  Meanwhile, you can easily spend upwards of 90 minutes inside The Seas with Nemo and Friends riding the ride, talking with Crush, and viewing the various types of sea life inside the aquariums.  Journey into Your Imagination with Figment and Ellen's Energy Adventure are other great choices in Future World.

World Showcase requires a bit more walking, but still offers many indoor shows and attractions.  Many countries including Canada, China, and America to name a few offer shows that highlight their culture, all of which are inside theaters.  Many of the shops and restaurants in each country are connected or are located right next to each other so you won't need to worry with umbrellas or ponchos to stay dry.  Even the rides in World Showcase are inside including the Gran Fiesta Tour and the new Frozen attraction.

And when all else fails, you can always hide from the rain in one of the many restaurants located around World Showcase.  Some of the best restaurants featuring unique cuisines from around the world can be found in Epcot.  One of my favorites is to visit the Rose and Crown Pub in England.  Traditional UK favorites mix with comfy decor and a beautiful view of World Showcase Lagoon.

So don't let the rain dampen your Walt Disney World plans!  Each park has things to see and do when the weather is less than perfect, but Epcot can turn any day into a "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah" day!

"March"-ing Into Racing Season!

With the turn of the calendar, the beginning of daylight savings time, and the change in temperature, signs of spring are certainly springing up all around the Mid-Atlantic.  Another sure sign that spring is in the air?  Running calendars are once again blooming with races.  I've been spending the winter months training at Planet Fitness on a treadmill, but am now venturing back outside to prepare for upcoming events.  Here's a sneak peek at my racing calendar to kick off the season.

2014 and 2015 were a blast! Can't wait to see what 2016 brings!!
March 12 - OCMD St. Patty's Day Boardwalk 5K - I'll be kicking off the 2016 racing season with a race that I'm excited to be running with my mom.  My mom will be celebrating her birthday on March 18 and this will be her first ever 5K!  It should be a great time in Ocean City, MD and I'm looking forward to what should be a fast, flat course.

May 7 & 8 - Frederick Running Festival - This will be my first half-marathon as my runDisney Wine & Dine Half-Marathon only turned out to be half of a half.  In Frederick, I'll be an official "nut job" - running the Twilight 5K on Saturday night and the half-marathon on Sunday morning.  This is also the first leg of the Maryland Double and the King Crab Challenge.  I'm a bundle of emotions thinking about my first half-marathon - nervous, excited, anxious!

June 4 - Baltimore 10-miler - This race is the second part of the King Crab Challenge.  It looks to be a fun race through Baltimore and running through the Maryland Zoo.  I'm also hoping that this race will give me a good proof of time for any future races.

It looks to be an exciting couple of months.  I'm hoping that things go well with my training schedule as work tends to get busier in the Spring and the little ones at home are keeping me hopping more quickly then Peter Cottontail delivering Easter eggs!  Keep following along for updates on training and race recaps as each one is completed.

BIG Announcements from Disney!

Over the past few days there have been several announcements from Disney that have fans of the parks and Disney Cruise Line excited.  Let's summarize the details here:

Rivers of Light - Animal Kingdom will be joining Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios by launching a nighttime show called Rivers of Light.  While discussions about and work on this show have been going on for a long time, the official start date was released this week.  Beginning April 22, guests at Animal Kingdom will be able to delight in the evening event.  The show will feature animal Spirit Guides that will tell their stories lanterns, fountains, and water screens.  It sounds like something not to be missed!

Disney Springs Expansion - The transition from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs has brought a facelift to the area and many new experiences.  Earlier this week, the Disney Parks Blog shared that another 30 dining and shopping locations will be joining Disney Springs.  Some of these include Under Armour, kate spade new york, and Sephora.  This expansion makes Disney Springs a nice high-end shopping location with a number of world class dining options as well.

Disney Cruise Line - Perhaps the biggest news to come from Disney this week was the expansion of the Disney Cruise Line fleet.  It was announced today that Disney is planning to add 2 more ships to join the Wonder, Magic, Dream, and Fantasy.  While these cruise ships are still in the distant future (anticipated dates of completion are 2021 and 2023), this brings a lot of excitement and anticipation to the future of Disney Cruise Line and expanded destinations for worldwide travel with entertainment and service that only Disney can provide!

With so many exciting announcements in just one week, the future of Disney travel is certainly looking bright!!  Remember that you can always follow along with the latest Disney news by following the official Disney Parks Blog.

Training with my Apple Watch

Who doesn't love Mickey Mouse?!?
I've had my Apple Watch for about 2 months now and have fallen in love with a number of features.  My husband surprised me with the watch as a Christmas gift and he did a perfect job picking out the Sport Edition in Rose Gold with the lavender band.  Besides being able to get notifications, texts, emails, and view my calendar all on my wrist, one of my favorite things about the watch is the fitness and activity tracking.  During the day, I can easily see what progress I'm making toward my calorie, exercise, and stand goals as well as tracking my steps on the pedometer.

When it's time to hit the gym, I open up the workout app and select which type of workout I'm planning for that day.  Most days, that means a run for me.  Before you begin the workout, the app let's you decide what kind of workout you're completing that day - indoor run, outdoor run, outdoor walk, etc. Inside the app, I can choose to set a mileage, time, or calorie goal or just to run open-ended.  During the run, I easily swipe through to monitor my heart rate, calories burned, current pace, and distance.  Overall, I've found the during workout features to be reliable and easy to navigate.

After my run, my workouts are stored in the Activity app on my iPhone.  I'm a paper and pencil girl when it comes to my running log so I can easily transfer my information to my book.  While it's only been a few weeks, I'm really excited about the features that my watch has to offer and feel like it's having a positive impact on my overall fitness goals.  As I get more involved with my training for my May half-marathon, I'm anxious to track my progress!

I still love my Garmin Forerunner 10, but find the Apple Watch more convenient since I'm already wearing it everyday and it syncs with the steps and activity I've already been completing throughout the day. With so many options on the market, what's your favorite running watch?

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