Thursday, April 28, 2016

One more way runDisney can take all my money. . .

It's no secret that I love the magic of a runDisney race.  About the only thing that has saved me from going broke running several a year is the fact that each race requires paying for flights and other vacation necessities in addition to the cost of the races.  But what if runDisney created a way for me to run races and earn cute bling without the expense of a Florida trip?  Well, they just did. . .

Image from www.rundisney.com
Welcome to the era of runDisney virtual races!  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of virtual races, it's very simple and, some might argue, a little silly.  You pay a race entry fee and in return typically receive a bib and a medal.  Some races allow you to purchase shirts at an extra cost.  Then you run the race distance - on the treadmill, around your neighborhood, with friends, or alone.  You can connect with other runners via social media who are doing the same race in their own city and show each other support.  There's no fanfare, no crowds, no other runners - just you, the pavement, and a medal at the end.

runDisney has just announced their first virtual race series.  The series is made up of three different 5K races.  You can purchase each one separately or pay a combined "challenge" package where you complete all three.  Like typical virtual races, you'll receive a race bib and a medal in the mail - all with an adorable Mickey theme.  The races in this inaugural series include theming around Mickey's famous yellow shoes, red shorts, and white gloves.  Races cost $39 each or $142 for the entire series. This is a steep price compared to most virtual races, but is a bargain price compared to the typical runDisney 5K.

As for me, I'm debating whether or not to sign up for one of these races.  While the lure of runDisney bling always calls to me as a siren song, my favorite parts of the runDisney experience are the characters and the camaraderie among my fellow runners.  But if I know the runDisney community, it will be buzzing with excitement and encouragement for all runners out there tackling these virtual races.

Oh, who am I kidding?  Go ahead and take all money runDisney. . .

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Storytelling

Talk about a beautiful storytelling scene!  Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is simply amazing.  Check out my reviews of breakfast, lunch, and dinner - all unique experiences!


What Disney restaurant or attraction is your favorite storytelling experience?  Check out what some others are sharing on the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!


Focused on the Magic

Monday, April 18, 2016

Disney on a Dime

Walt Disney World is a vacation that some families see as a once in a lifetime trip.  When friends and acquaintances find out how often we travel to Disney, one of the first questions they ask is how can we afford it.  Disney doesn't have to break the bank.  Here are some of my favorite money saving tips we use when planning our Disney trips.

Buying Gift Cards at Target (or Costco, or Sam's Club, etc.) - There are a number of stores that offer Disney Gift Cards at a discounted price.  For example, you can save 5% off of Disney Gift Cards by using your Target Red Card.  That $1000 worth of gift cards will end up costing you only $950.  And if you purchase your gift cards online and use Ebates, you can earn $20 in cash back to your Ebates account.

Weigh the pros and cons of staying off property - Staying at a hotel off property can often be significantly cheaper then staying on property.  But remember to add in hidden costs when you consider this option - resort fees, parking costs, transportation to and from the airport and parks, etc.  Since we have a lot of Hilton points, we've been staying recently at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek for free.  And you can't beat free!

Book Character Breakfasts instead of Character Dinners - Character meals are a must do for most families in Walt Disney World.  Many character meals offer the same characters at all three meals, but breakfast can be significantly cheaper.  It's a great way to still get that enjoyable character experience without the extra strain on your wallet.

Skip the ticket extras - Park Hoppers and Water Park tickets can be fun, but really aren't necessary on your vacation.  You can easily plan your vacation and squeeze in lots of family fun without the need to hit multiple parks in one day.  And with resort pools boasting amazing water areas, you probably won't even miss the water parks.  Skipping these options will save you hundreds of dollars off of park tickets.

Pack your own snacks - Walt Disney World allows you to bring in your own food and drinks to use for the day.  We often pack an extra suitcase with food and snacks from home and then order some fresh fruit and drinks from an online grocery service like Garden Grocer.  Packing a bag with our own food is an easy way to save on the expense of eating in the parks.




Friday, April 15, 2016

Fitness Challenge - Week 2 Recap

The 30 days of fitness challenge is rolling on and so far April has continued to be a perfect month!  This week was not easy to meet the challenge, but it worked out with a little perseverance and some creativity.  I had three nighttime activities this week on top of my normal work day which made it hard to squeeze in workouts.

On Tuesday I got active enough on my own without officially "working out."  Tuesday was a busy day at school and then I walked a few blocks after the kids left to pick up my race bib and packet for the Main Street Mile race the following day.  That activity level was enough to push me past my 30 minute goal.  On Wednesday, Brody and I ran the Main Street Mile.  It was his first race and he rocked it!  Mommy was so proud!  Between the run and a few quick cardio exercises when I got home, I cleared my goal again.  And on Friday, I had a "no excuses" day and stopped by the gym for a quick workout before picking the kids up and then heading back to school to chaperone our movie night.

One of the things I'm learning through this challenge is how to blow through excuses.  The choice to get active and workout is truly a case of mind over matter.  Despite an exceptionally full plate this week, I found a way to meet my goals.  I think this is one of the biggest things I wanted to prove to myself during this month.  I have often found myself saying "It's too late" or "I'm too tired"' or "There's not enough time."  But now I see those are just excuses - not real barriers.  Life will always be busy and there will always be other things to prioritize over exercise, but now I see that if I choose not to exercise, it is just that. . .a choice.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Looking for a Sign

On any Disney trip, there are signs everywhere - telling you where to find the bus stop, marking FP+ entrances, and welcoming you to your resort to name just a few.  A sign you don't want to miss if you're traveling with an infant or a toddler. . .



The Baby Care Centers in each park are AMAZING spaces.  Check out all they have to offer in my detailed review of the centers located within each park.  There is something for the tiniest of travelers to the toddler or preschooler that just needs a break.  

What signs do you love to see on your Disney trip?  Check out what others are talking about on the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!
Focused on the Magic

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fitness Challenge - Week 1 Recap

Perfect month so far!
So week one of my fitness challenge is in the books and I'm still on track! I have to admit that there were some nights that were a bit of a challenge this week which speaks to the dedication that it takes to maintain a fitness regimen.  Over the course of the week, I got in a few runs of a couple miles each and also completed a several Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred workouts.  Here's what I lost and gained this week:

**I lost time.  Time is precious in my life.  I get up at 5AM, out the door at 6:30 to make the daycare drop off, to work by 7:15, leave work around 5PM, get the kids from daycare, cook dinner, bath time and bed for the kids between 7 and 8.  Only after then, do I get the chance to start my workout.  And if I'm working out then I'm not able to get laundry / blogging / cleaning / resting into the nighttime schedule.

**I lost about 2.5 lbs and several inches.  I should have done official measurements before the month began, but even without those I can already begin to feel a difference in how my clothes fit.

**I gained more energy.  Despite being strapped for time to squeeze everything into the day, I walk away from my workouts feeling more energized then before.  There were two days this previous week that I had headaches after work and almost gave up on getting a workout in.  However, after getting up the motivation to work out, I felt much better - not just that evening, but into the next day too.

**I gained strength and endurance.  One of my favorite things about working out is how quickly results and progress can start to be noticed.  As my runs are getting longer, I'm hanging in well with the increase in distance and my endurance during the 30 Day Shred videos is improving each day as well.

This next week is going to bring even more challenges as I have three evening activities to juggle on top of my usual work days.  I plan to harness the benefits I've seen week one to motivate me through completing week two.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - April Calendar Shot

Time for the weekly Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!  This week's theme is "April Calendar Shot." I chose one of my favorite pictures ever from my son's first visit to Magic Kingdom at 17 months old.  We snagged this great pic thanks to Disney PhotoPass photographers on an empty Main Street, U.S.A. by having a breakfast reservation before the park opened to guests.  Love this!


Don't forget to visit other great Disney blogs on the Blog Hop sponsored by Focused on the Magic!

Focused on the Magic

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Walt Wisdom - Lessons in Leadership


"Courage is the main quality of leadership. . ." ~ Walt Disney

Over the past few weeks, I've been putting a great deal of thought into what makes a leader.  At times of crisis and difficulty, the legacy of a leader is defined.  When faced with challenges, it's not always easy to make the right decision because sometimes what's right is not always popular - and what's popular is not always right.

Walt Disney shares with us the idea that courage is not only a defining ingredient of leadership, but that it's in fact the main quality.  In the world that we live in today, it's even more challenging for leaders to muster the courage they require.  Social media has made it easy for others to judge, persecute, and publicly shame from a distance.  Rumors, lies, and purely cruel statements can be "shared" and "liked" with a simple click of a button.

Imagine what it must feel like to be a leader facing a difficult challenge?  Too often we forget that at the end of the day, we're all on the same team.  Whether the leader is trying to build a stronger nation, a better state, or improve the quality of education, we can often find similarity in our goals.  This doesn't mean that we won't ever disagree with leaders.  In fact, it's healthy and vital that disagreements occur to facilitate the decision making process and force leaders to think outside the box.  However, when the opinions have been heard, all of the ramifications have been weighed, and a decision has been reached, it's time to come together once again.  Being a leader isn't always easy, but with the right amount of courage, challenges can be faced and progress can be made.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Fitness Challenge that's No Joke!

Today is traditionally a day for pranks and jokes, but today I'm beginning a challenge that's no laughing matter.  Since getting my Apple Watch as a Christmas present, I've enjoyed watching my fitness stats each day.  Pretty consistently I'm able to meet my calorie goal and I ALWAYS meet my stand goal, but the 30 minute move goal is a tough one for me to meet every day.  With as busy as life gets, finding time to exercise can be difficult.  So in April, I'm challenging myself to meet my 30 minute exercise goal every day.

The timing is right for this as my training is in full swing for the Frederick Half-Marathon at the beginning of May.  I'm running 3-4 days per week and trying to cross-train 1-2 days.  Even on my rest days I can still get my 30 minutes of exercise in by playing at the park with my boys or going on family walks.  

So that's that!  A month long fitness challenge that you can follow along with here on the blog.  My plan is to post each week with an update on my progress.  I'd love to have some of you join me on my journey - who's in?? 

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