Showing posts with label Moms Panel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Moms Panel. Show all posts

Welcome to 2016!

With the turning of the calendar, a new chapter in the book life is about to be written.  I thought I would take some time to look back on my resolutions from my "Happy New Year" post from this time last year and reflect a bit before setting my goals and resolutions for this year.

  • Maintain balance between wife, mom, daughter, Kristi, and Assistant Principal.  Juggling multiple roles can be exhausting and I want to do my best to prioritize and make time for each of these important responsibilities in my life. - This is probably still my biggest struggle moving forward into 2016.  Keeping up with two kids, a full time job, my house and husband, and still making time for me is never easy.  I think as I move forward this year, this is going to continue to be an area I focus on with my resolution being to be present in every moment.  When I'm at home with my husband and kids, be at home and enjoy them.  When I'm working out, use that opportunity to clear my head and focus on me.  And when I'm at work, give 110% there so I can also have time for my family when I get done.

  • Run a half-marathon.  After the pregnancy, I've decided to set an ambitious training goal to force me to get off the couch and back into shape.  My plan is the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon in November.  Which leads me to Resolution #3. . . - At the end of the year, I'd have to say I half accomplished this goal.  The Wine & Dine Half-Marathon was shortened because of storms in the area to only 6.72 miles.  In 2016, I will run a half-marathon!  Currently, I'm planning to take part in the King Crab Challenge which includes the Frederick Half-Marathon in May, the Baltimore 10-miler in June, and the Baltimore Half-Marathon in October.  

  • Somewhere Disney.  If you know anything about me by now, you know that I need to feed my Disney addiction with a yearly trip.  Dan and I are celebrating our 5 year anniversary this year and are planning either a long weekend getaway to the Food and Wine Festival in November or a short DCL trip in October. - Well, we ended up blowing this one out of the water with a surprise last-minute trip to Walt Disney World with the kids for a week in July where we stayed at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa.  My husband and I have different memories of this trip, but I say it was fabulous!  We then also went in November for a long weekend for the runDisney Wine & Dine Half-Marathon weekend where we stayed at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. The Food & Wine Festival was a fun time and I can't wait to participate in another runDisney race.  Sadly, it doesn't look like a trip to Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Line is in our budget for this year, but my trip in November means that I'll still be eligible to apply for the 2017 Disney Parks Moms Panel and my husband has already tentatively given me the green light for a Disney trip in February 2017 to participate in the Princess Half-Marthon Weekend.  

  • Continue blogging and interacting with the social media community.  2014 was a first for me with beginning a blog and actually using Twitter.  I've had an amazing time connecting through these outlets and hope to build my skills and followers in the year to come.  If you don't currently follow me on Twitter, please do @dsnyrunrgrl.  I've also applied to host a #DisneySide @ Home Celebration and submitted my interest to be selected for the #DisneySMMoms On the Road Conference - fingers crossed!  And hopefully I'll make it past R2 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search this Fall. - This is another area where I feel like I exceeded even my own expectations.  My blog readership increased exponentially this year and my Twitter following has grown from under 100 at the beginning of 2015 to over 1,000 by the end of the year.  I've also entered into the world of Instagram.  I was so excited to host a DisneySide at Home Celebration in February and even more humbled and grateful for the chance to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road in New York City.  This year, the Disney Parks Moms Panel search ended with an exit in Round 1, but it was exciting to chEAR on some amazing friends who were fortunate enough to make the panel this year and maybe next year will be my chance to be a part of the magic!  

2015 was a year of exciting changes personally too with the addition of our youngest son Caleb in February and purchasing a new home in January.  The beginning of the new year always brings excitement and anticipation and I hope that 2016 brings pixie dust and blessings to my family and yours!  Happy New Year!

My Top 5 Posts of 2015

Here are my top 5 blog posts of 2015!  Any of these among your favorites??

5.  2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration - This was a highlight of my year!  I felt like I learned so much from the wonderful presenters and speakers.  A big "thank you" to BSM Media and the Disney Social Media team that organizes this event.  It was due in part to their inspirational messages and powerful content that I saw the growth I did this year!

4.  runDisney - Creating Me Version 2.0 - I was surprised at first that this was on my top 5 list.  This was a pretty personal blog post about why I was training for a runDisney half-marathon and the ups and downs of my training.  It meant a lot to me, but didn't realize that it would speak to so many others.  I think everyone who runs, runs for their own reasons and regardless of where you are in your training journey, everyone experiences the highs and lows of training.

3.  What is the Disney Parks Moms Panel? - This blog post could really have been one simple sentence - they are simply the most awesome vacation planning resource ever!  The men and women who make up this panel are fabulous individuals who are genuinely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about all things Disney Parks.  If you haven't visited them, be sure to check them out and submit any questions you have!

2.  How to Organize Your Disney Vacation Plans - Even with the advent of My Disney Experience, I still rely on a good old fashioned table and some spreadsheets to make sure all of my plans line up the way I want.  I'm happy that my ideas have hopefully helped others plan a magical vacation for their family as well.

And drumroll please. . .

1.  runDisney Wine & Dine 2015 - My first runDisney experience was fabulous, even though it was not the race I was expecting.  I would highly recommend a runDisney race to anyone and literally cannot wait for the chance to participate in another one hopefully sometime soon!

Running on. . .Chick-Fil-A!

Some of you are already aware that I was invited to join the Chick-Fil-A Moms Panel this year and couldn't be more excited!  I can't remember exactly when my love of Chick-Fil-A began, but I know it was love at first bite of their delicious chicken strips and then my introduction to Chick-Fil-A sauce took our relationship to the next level.  As a busy working mom, Chick-Fil-A is one of my favorite places to stop on and pick up a quick lunch or dinner for the family.  And as a runner, I enjoy the fact that there are some healthier options on the menu too that are equally delicious.

As a member of the Chick-Fil-A Moms Panel, I will be responding to inquiries, answering questions, and giving a moms point of view on programs and products from Chick-Fil-A.  So far, I've found a few other Chick-Fil-A Moms from the Maryland area and I am looking forward to connecting with even moms from around the U.S.  If you're interested in following our fun, search #chickfilamoms on social media networks!
As a runner, I think of food for my body as fuel.  While I certainly enjoy indulging a bit from time to time, it's great to have a place like Chick-Fil-A where I can get healthy fast food options to keep me running - as an athlete and a mom!

Disclosure - I am an invited member of the Chick-Fil-A Moms Panel and occasionally receive free products or promotional items.  All opinions are my own.

Walt Wisdom Wednesday

"Happiness is a state of mind.  It's just according to the way you look at things." ~ Walt Disney

I've always considered myself a glass half full kind of gal.  The way I see it, you can't always control what life hands you, but you can control how you respond to it.  Choosing to be happy is just that - a choice.  There is certainly enough bad news in the world to bring you down if you let it, but where does that lead you?

Yesterday I was disappointed to learn that my ongoing quest to one day be a part of the Disney Parks Moms Panel ended this year at Round 1.  This was an especially tough blow after having made it to Round 2 for the first time last year.  The email came through at 12:48 AM so I saw it on my phone when I woke up to feed my 8 month old son at 3:30 AM.  While the disappointment is certainly there, I have to say that the adventure and excitement each September is something I wouldn't miss for the world.  I've often said that Disney pushes me to be the best version of myself and even though I will once again not be joining the fabulous men and women of the Disney Parks Moms Panel, I have met some wonderful people along the way, continued to grow as a blogger, and am always finding new ways to share my love of Disney and the trip planning knowledge I have with those I meet.

By choosing to keep a positive frame of mind, you are opening up yourself to new ideas and finding solutions rather than focusing on the problems that may be plaguing you.  The attitude and demeanor you bring to a challenging situation can have a huge impact on the outcome.  Surround yourself with positive people and look for the ray of sunshine that may be trying to peek through the clouds.

Is it too early to start #DisneyMP2017 trending for those of us already in that waiting room?

What is the Disney Parks Moms Panel?

Confession - Even those of us who eat, breathe, and sleep all things Disney sometimes have questions.

I consider myself to be well versed in the world of Walt Disney World travel, but new experiences like the first time I took a Disney Cruise Line vacation or getting ready for my first runDisney race sometimes leave me scratching my head.  How does transportation work?  What should I pack?  What can I find at the expo?

So where do I turn when I have a question - the Disney Parks Moms Panel!  These ladies (and a few gentlemen) can answer any Disney vacation question you throw their way.  And they do it all with a smile and a splash of pixie dust!  The Disney Parks Moms Panel features specialists in Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, and runDisney to name a few and also features panelists from a variety of countries.  Whether you are planning your first vacation or your twentieth, if questions come up, this is the perfect place to turn.  Previous questions are posted on the website and categorized so you can easily search questions and answers if you don't even know where to begin.

Last year I made it to Round Two of the search.  Will this be my year to go all the way?
And if you think you know Disney, why not try applying for the panel?  Each year, there is an application process to find new panelists.  The first round begins in September with the excited new members being announced around Thanksgiving.  I've applied each of the past two years and made it to round two last year.  In the past, applicants have answered questions similar to what may be posed to the Moms Panel, submit videos, and complete an interview. While every year there are thousands of applicants, only a small handful can be selected.  What's the secret to getting selected?  If you figure it out, tell me!  I'm sure though from what I've read that knowing your Disney nomenclature, practicing near perfect spelling and grammar, and letting your unique personality shine through are some of the most important criteria.  I can't wait for the applications to open up again this year on September 8th and keep wishing upon a star that this year will be my year to be a Walt Disney World specialist!

5 Must-Do's for Planning a Magical WDW Vacation

A trip to Walt Disney World is something the whole family gets excited about as the magic awaits.  But to make sure your vacation is even more pixie dusted, here are my top 5 "must-do's" when planning your upcoming trip.

1.  Make Dining Reservations - Dining in Walt Disney World is one of the best parts of any visit.  From the flavors around the world at Epcot to character dining experiences that will create memories for years to come, the restaurants you choose to visit will be central to your vacation.  You can start making dining reservations 180 days before your trip.  Booking early will allow you some of the best selections, but don't despair if you miss out on some of your favorites.  I was fortunate this trip to find many cancellations as my vacation date drew closer - even scoring a Be Our Guest dinner reservation about a week before we left!

Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant is one of the toughest dining reservations to get.

2.  Research, research, research - Walt Disney World has so much to offer for every age.  From the tiniest of travelers to the grandparents joining the adventure, everyone is sure to find something perfect for them.  In fact, with so much to offer it can be overwhelming when planning your trip.  Take a peek around the Walt Disney World website and visit blogs (like this one!) that may be geared towards your specific age group or traveling needs.

3.  When in doubt, ask questions! - If you have a specific question or are seeking some great opinions on what not to miss on your trip, stop over to the Disney Parks Moms Panel for assistance.  Here, you can browse or search through previously answered questions while also having the option to submit your own question if you can't find what you need.  When we were planning our first Disney Cruise Line vacation, I spent a lot of time on this site learning from their wisdom!

4.  Don't forget those FastPass+ reservations - Guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort can begin making their FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance while those staying "off property" can book at 30 days before your trip.  Regardless of whether you can start booking at 60 days or 30 days in advance, do it as soon as your window opens to get the best selection.  Popular attractions like the Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet at Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom often book up quickly!  These reservations are not written in stone, so book what you think you need and you can always revisit later if your plans change.

Want to enjoy The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train?  Better get a FP+ reservation to avoid the hour or so wait!

5.  Download the My Disney Experience App - This app is your one-stop-shop for keeping all of your hotel, dining, and FastPass+ reservations together.  You can modify plans from the app so if you're out in the parks and need to make changes, it's quick and easy to do so.  The app also provides current wait times for rides, show schedules, and park hours.  It's the perfect companion for your trip!

With so much to see and do at the Walt Disney World Resort, be sure to take your time to research so you can plan the perfect vacation for you and your family!

2014 - The Year in Review

2014 was another whirlwind year for our family with much excitement and many blessings!  As we say goodbye to the past year, here are some of our highlights:

  • Started blogging and (somewhat) successfully maintained it - minus the summer hiatus.
  • Got back into running "for the first time in forever."
    What better than #runDisney to motivate me back into running for the first time in 8 years??
  • Celebrated Brody's 2nd Birthday.
  • I turned 30 and was lucky enough to celebrate on a Disney Cruise with Dan for a little "mommy / daddy time" at sea.
    With Captain Mickey on the Disney Dream!
  • Dan got a new job doing what he loves and does best.
  • We found out that we were expecting baby #2 - another boy. . .due to arrive February 2015!
    Waiting on Baby Caleb!
  • I got promoted to an Assistant Principal position in July.
  • The Orioles won the AL East for the first time since 1997 :)
    Enjoying a day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards!
  • I made it R2 of the Disney Parks Moms Panel application process, but alas, no R3 this year.
    Such a magical email to receive!  Hoping for more #DisneyMP fun next year :)
  • We put a contract on a new house and are planning to move in January.
  • Brody got to go on his 2nd vacation to Disney World - this time a 5 day trip in November.
    Brody was so excited to meet all of his favorites - and a perfect gentleman!

I heart exciting Mickey mail!

Today I had two pieces of exciting Mickey mail waiting for me!  The first I knew was on the way, but the second came as a complete surprise to me :)

As you know, our trip in November is the first one I'll be taking with FP+ and MagicBands.  Today in the mail, our MagicBands arrived!!  These are so fun.  You get to customize your band online before your trip by picking the color and name associated with it.  Then they arrive by mail a few weeks before your trip.  I love that Disney even lets little ones who don't really need them to have one so they aren't left out of the fun.  I've started wearing mine around the house. . .further adding to Dan's concerns about my Disney sanity.

The second piece of exciting mail was actually an e-mail from the Disney Parks Mom Panel.  I had applied back in the beginning of September for a coveted spot on this elite panel of Disney enthusiasts who answer questions online to help people planning their trips.  Each year they receive thousands of applicants.  Last year, I didn't make it to Round 2 but this year I did!  I was so excited to find out that I made the next cut along the way.  For Round 2, applicants have to answer 8 questions and then film a 71 second video.  I applied for the Disney Cruise Line part of the panel so all of my questions relate to DCL.  Wish me luck!