DIY Disney Vacation Shadowbox

I had previously created a shadowbox for Walt Disney World and since we just got back from Disneyland, I wanted to create one for that trip too. I have three kiddos and don't have much time to think about or be too crazy about my box design. I would describe it as simple, clean, but nostalgic too. It's a simple shadowbox I picked up from Hobby Lobby and with two stickers, a picture, a magnet and three pins = you have a shadowbox! My house is slowly starting to have a #disneyside, much to my husbands dismay! Ha!

My next shadowbox will be for Disneyland Paris! If only I had a magnet for the castle! I have everything else!! 

1st Time at a Disney park? 5 Things You Need to Know! Set 1

My first 5 tips or facts about a first time Disney vacation - (This is an typical explanation that I would give...Sorry it's so long winded!)

>Be prepared!
That sounds stupid, but I would tell you that it's simply not somewhere I would go by the seat of my pants! I love planning stuff, but I can also be very flexible too. Having gone as a child, as a family reunion, as a single adult, married, then with kids - each time was a different experience. Planning for trips is different each time and can be alot of fun, but work too! Be prepared to NOT see everything. I was the person who tried to do everything every trip, but with refurbishments, weather closings, and the time restraint, it's easier to just know ahead of time that we are going to see as much as we can and not have that expectation that we can do it all! Especially with little ones in tow...you see less! You can know ahead of time what is closed for refurbishment on the calendar page at the bottom of each park there is a little section that tells you what is closed.
>Make dining reservations as soon as you've booked your trip in order to get good times and dates! I only booked 3 months in advance on my last trip and got all the dining reservations I wanted - all 8 of them! I did need park hopper and flexibility in times/park days to plan that though. I got my dining reservations worked out and then made my schedule of parks and where we would be on the trip.
> Make a list beforehand of absolutely must do's for each park. I knew that with two toddlers they wouldn't be able to ride everything! My oldest still reminds me that we have to go back - "because we skipped some stuff!" Ha! Knowing ahead of time the ride height requirements was helpful to for planning rider swap too.
>Familiarize yourself with the layout of Disney! Knowing where you are can be very helpful and especially if you are trying to use the transportation system to get places it's nice to head the right direction and not waste time wandering around looking for something.
>Be prepared! To Lose your kid! This may seem silly, but knowing what you are going to do if something like this happens can be helpful to you and your child. I have seen many a child lost at Disney and there are ways to stay calm and not be that mother who is having a panic attack because she doesn't spot her child right away and starts to think the worst has happened to them! First, stay calm as hard as it is to do. Just stop! Look around from where you are standing and just look. Is there something that might have distracted your child to it? (ok, that's a stupid question for Disney, but is there a character or show? Something that might have really had a pull to your child to go to?) Then find the closest cast member and let them know you were in this area and can't find your child. Having a picture from that day handy would be great for showing them your child. There are missing children all the time and they are there every day and handle these type of situations frequently. The times that I have seen a child lost from their party, a cast member takes them to the Lost Child area after they stand for a few minutes in the vicinity where the child was found. There are new products on the market to help with name. number, etc... I really like the child temporary tattoo idea - Safety Tat is one that I've heard of.. I could put it in a discreet place and not visible to everybody. Teaching your child to find a cast member who is wearing a name tag is important too. Do they know your real name? Tell them what to do to. I'm not trying to scare my child, but I want them prepared and we will have a plan, just in case!

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Why you should do a RunDisney half marathon...

I am not a runner, never have been, had no desire to. But when you see the golden sparkle of a shiny medal hanging from a beautiful ribbon, you all of a sudden feel like Ralph. Ralph, from Wreck It Ralph! All he wanted was a medal. A shiny medal to call his own. I think he though it would make him no longer a bad guy, which I'm not, but I think in each of us we have something inside us to do a good job at something. Getting a medal validates that. I want the medal to show that I trained, sweat (which I really hate to do), lost toenails and earned it with good old fashioned hard work.

I have 5 reasons you should do a RunDisney Half Marathon or another big running goal - maybe that's a 10k to start off with!

1. Setting a goal and working towards it gives you a purpose.
   If I hadn't signed up when the window of registration was open I probably wouldn't have gotten in, and then I probably wouldn't have trained and I would probably still be wearing those post maternity, yet non pre-pregnancy pants...See where I'm going with this? (Reminds me of the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) I wanted to loose my baby weight and wanted to feel better about myself, but the draw to do that was weak. I think it's so easy to just keep the weight on and hope it falls off! Ha! It does for some, but not for all. Signing up when I did made me say "I'm doing this!"

2. Motivates others.
   I told a few of my girlfriends that I was half crazy and asked them if they wanted to join me in this adventure. Surprisingly I had some takers! I have one friend that did the Tinkerbell Half Marathon with me and two friends doing the Princess Half Marathon. I am so excited to train with them and help each other complete such a large goal! I also have two cousins in Florida you signed up for the 5k and 10k too!

3. Setting an example.
   My girls all three ran in the kids RunDisney races. I want them to see that running is fun. I wanted them to enjoy themselves and be proud too. They were very excited about their medals and my oldest kept saying "I didn't win mom, but I finished", I want them to know that finishing what you start is super important.

4. Being active and training makes you feel happy - Getting those endorphins and for me that time to myself to just think or listen to music that I want for once, although my running playlist is typically Disney! Ha! Being a mom, I don't do much by myself let alone pee, so getting to go run at night or dropping them off at the gym to do the trails is my time to focus and think about me and what my fitness goal is - to complete a half marathon. It's not a race, it's a run for me. If it was a race, I'd lose big time!

5. It makes you a feel good about yourself!
   Doing something that you set your mind to and worked hard for is rewarding in itself. I decided that my medals are for each of my daughters, so I won't always have them with me. But crossing the finish line is emotional. You feel relief in finishing, but also satisfaction that the training that you completed was enough to finish and not crawling across the finish line. I don't know if I'll cry, but I can imagine that I just might! LOL!

Meeting Anna and Elsa from Frozen

Making a list of things to do and see wasn't hard on our recent trip to Disneyland. We love meeting the characters and getting autographs. It was also our first trip to Disneyland and so we wanted to do everything that wasn't at Walt Disney World, but also some of our favorites too. One thing that was at the top of the list was meeting Anna and Elsa from Frozen! We have seen the movie multiple times, own the soundtrack and my oldest was Elsa for Halloween even though she had never seen the movie! (that ended up being a blessing). We brought our costumes from home including the girls crowns and that was a fabulous idea! There was only a few Anna wigs and snowflake light up wands. Nothing else Frozen that we could find! So glad that I stocked up at the Disney Store and a few other places that sold it beforehand! We were at the parks at opening time and we waited at the rope until they let us to the back. We knew that the Frozen characters was at the top of the list, but with no line virtually at the Royal Princess Greeting area, we stopped there first to meet a few friends and then proceeded to the Frozen meet and greet line. I would say that we got in line at 10:15, and they didn't start meeting people til 11. We put on our costumes in the line and I ran to get fastpasses to Splash Mountain while they stood in line. We waited only an hour, maybe an hour and a half at the most! We knew ahead of time that the line gets ridiculously long and can easily be a 3-4 hour wait.
Meeting them was so special! My girls loved the interaction and my middle child sang Let It Go for them and everything! I was busy chasing a baby around and didn't get to hear everything that was said, but it was a highlight of our trip! There is nothing more sweet than seeing your babies meet someone who they love and act like. I love that they are sisters and the hair colors are similar for my two and the older one is Elsa and the younger red headed one is Anna. Of course this puts the baby sister as Olaf, but she doesn't know it yet - ha!

I would highly suggest getting in line early and doing this first thing of the day.
Bring your own costumes.
Be prepared for the wait - snacks, games, take turns with one person standing in line and others riding a few rides.
Prep your child to ask a question or to do something interacting with the character.
Bring your autograph items. I had brough the Frozen chapter book, but forgot it in the room that morning, so we missed out.

*Sidenote - I just got back from a runcation with my girlfriends and the line for Anna and Elsa at WDW was 4-5 hours. People start lining up at 9am when the park opens, but they don't start visiting with guests til 11. Get a person in line quickly and send the rest of the group to go play! So if you want to meet Anna and Elsa on your next vacation get in line early and be patient with your wait! A Fastpass is the best way to ensure a short wait, but I have also gotten in line during the evening fireworks and I didn't have a long wait at all!

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RunDisney Tinkerbell Half Expo

After picking up my packet, which was super easy and virtually no line, we walked upstairs to the expo to pick up tshirts and race bags. I think the Princess Expo will be really different since they have multiple buildings for things and races. Plus it isn't at the same place. 

This will be my collection in just a few short days! I'm so excited! 
Let's just say that as a first time RunDisney runner, first time half marathoner, over shopping at the expo can be a little tempting! I knew that I wanted a few things to commemorate the event and my accomplishment, but there is also the whole running aspect of the expo. New shoes, shirts, skirts that shimmer and sparkle, hair bands that don't slip and slide, energy foods, contraptions that ease those hurting muscles and more! I wasn't interested in the New Balance shoes so I didn't have to worry about that line, but the line I did have to endure was the Official RunDisney merchandise line. The Dooney and Burkes, I did it! shirts and all the other fun stuff was in that section and they only allowed a certain amount of people in at a time. 
I was so dissapointed that my mug washed off the first time I washed it. Love my car decal, but hate that the Texas sun will sunfade it, I'm thinking of putting on my master mirror! Otherwise it'll go in the scrapbook... 

I have yet to wear this shirt or take the tags off, but do plan on wearing it on Sunday after the Princess Half Marathon.

My green Mickey runner vinylmation that will also be earning another medal at the #princesshalf. 

I started off with Jeff Galloway's walk/run method and even though I'm not legalistic in my walking breaks, I find that what I do works for me and I'm not ashamed to say that I take walk breaks! I find that it helps me maintain a decent pace and keeps from feeling completely spent at the finish! I was able to hit the parks the same day as my half marathon and felt great! If you are thinking about doing a RunDisney run - check out his methods and books - really good info!
This sweet lady is from According to Kelly. I found her blog looking up ideas for running costumes and she is also a partner in the Team Sparkle running skirts business. She has the cutest costumes and I love her spunky attitude. She is so real in her posts and she has three kiddos too! 
I thought the expo was fun and getting to see all the vendors who offer great products is neat. I know people spent hours here, but I was done in 2 hours tops and felt like I did everything. There weren't freebies per say - the only things I say was yogurt, samples of the energy type foods, the commemorative art cards, which I loved and the LaLuna posters. I didn't pick up anything else. For the Princess Half Marathon I plan on getting the pins, another sweaty band, a medal for my vinylmation, but not a mug!! Ha! What are you planning on buying? Don't go crazy now!


My Running Belt

What's inside my running belt - 
I found out that they had the runDisney IFitness running belts at Downtown Disney at the team Mickey Store.(Which is closed now)  My friend was at Walt Disney World and I asked her if she wouldn't mind checking to see if she can find this running belt for me. Of course she did and of course she picked it up for me because we're good Disney friends like that and so I was very excited to get my running belt with a cute Mickey Mouse on the front. Not to mention the small 6oz water bottles on either side, since my previous belt did not have any bottles.

In my running belt I usually carry two Kleenex neatly folded in the shape of a rectangle. For that sudden runny nose or heaven forbid a potty break on the side of the road. I also carry my Gatorade chews- strawberry flavored and I usually carry one piece of gum.  My Burts Bees Chapstick, mace, my ID, along with $5. (I've been known to stop at Which Wich after a run! Love Which Wich!) I carry this whether I run 3 miles or a half marathon.

I have "add-ons" from ifitness on my belt - one of them I found at Marshall's and it holds a pair sunglasses but I also thought it would be great for that time of the month when you have any feminine hygiene products that you might need for whatever reason (hate taking her on runs!) and I loved that it also held my body glide along with my sunglasses for my half marathon. When those spots start to rub, you need relief!

At the Tink expo I found the Ifitness booth and they were having a deal on cell phone holders and I do not have a holder that would hold my Iphone 5S so I went ahead and got it. I ended up not using it for that though, I used it for my small Sony camera that I used on the run. It worked perfectly! 

My belt also has 2- 8 ounce small drink holders and I carried my yellow Gatorade. I typically run with yellow and because at the marathon they only had blue Powerade and water and before hand I did not know what flavors they would have, but I prefer yellow so I went ahead and just didn't drink them until I was really needing them and that the very end I preferred that over the blue Powerade that they were serving.

My Ifitness belt also has a place where the hold your number so you're not having to put safety pin holes in your costume  to hold your number. That's one thing I saw lots of newbies doing - putting their number on the back of their shirt! For picture reasons your number has to be on the front because for characters or running down the road, the picture people take a picture of you coming at them not you running away from them so you really won't have very many pictures if your number is on your back it should be on the front. Just a helpful tip! 


RunDisney Kids Races

I wanted my girls to feel like they were included in my running weekend and my husband too for that matter. My husband is getting his masters degree he just like didn't have any time to train or to run nor did he really care to do the 5K. So I think he missed out big time, but maybe next time he will join in after finishing his degree!
I signed each of my girls up for their age bracket for the RunDisney kids races. They were held Saturday at 9:30 AM in the same parking lot as the finish line - Simba lot near PCH hotel. I felt like it was a bit of unorganized mess. Maybe because it's just people who had never done the kids races before, like me or maybe cause we waited around a long time before the kids got to actually run. I will say this - a lot of kids ran this! My 14 month old fell asleep in the line because it was so hot she just got tired. It felt like a long time and she fell asleep. I've said this before - my kids sleep anywhere! Ha! I ended up running the whole thing with her still asleep in the hopes she would get her medal. I turned her around to make sure they could see her number and bib and we just followed sister! In hindsight I wish I had signed my middle child up for the longer race with her older sister because I know that she could do the distance and she would've had a more fun run that was faster! At the time I signed my girls up I didn't know that you could put them in a different age bracket or distance bracket. They started with the big kids runing their runs and then it was the little kids turns.
It was so fun for them -  they enjoyed earning a medal, getting to dress up like Tinkerbell for their run and having a number like mommy. It was their first race and I'm so happy it was at Disneyland. I hope it isn't their last!

The little brown tear off is so you can claim your child. You tear it off before the run and then at the end of the run as you leave the area, they check to make sure you have the correct child. If you don't have the tag they ask you a few security questions such as what hotel you are staying at or the child's birthday. I was happy to see them being so thorough and knowing that they were patrolling who was leaving with who!

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Tinkerbell Half Marathon Recap- My first Half Marathon

Running my first half marathon was a big deal! I've never run before, maybe laps as a kid in gym class, but never any amount of mileage! I trained my behind off since picking up running in May 2013. I really wanted to do my best, but get to have fun too! I told my husband that they only way I would run a half marathon and 13.1 miles was at Disney! When I found out about the Tinkerbell and the Princess and that beautiful pink Coast to Coast medal - I was in! Convincing my hubby was another story. Training for a half marathon with three kids and with him getting his masters was not easy. I ran a 10 miler in October and that was the farthest I ran before the big day.
Wowzers that's early!
Jump ahead to race day! 
We came all the way from Texas to run the Tink Half!

A few people showed up to run 14,000 to be more precise!
Go! Loved that the announcers tried to pump you up before the start!

Moving up to the starting point!

We walked to the corrals together
I had a girlfriend and her friend who is from California both sign up to also run the Tinkerbell half. We met up at 4:10am before the race in front of my hotel, took a quick bathroom break and walked to the start line. That is one thing that I know will be significantly different from the princess! Transportation to the start line. It was literally a 5 minute walk to the start and the corrals. At WDW there are buses and then walking and I hear to give yourself an hour to get to the corral. All that = less sleep! I really wasn't nervous before the start, but I had set all my clothes out the night before and didn't go to bed til 10:30. I was worried that my calves might not be happy with me since I had been walking the parks for 3 days already. But I used TheStick the night before to rub down my calves and neck and I used it the morning of with just a few small stretches in the room and I was ready to go! I'm not a big stretch before you run girl. I really do think TheStick helped.
We walked to the corral area took a few pics and then parted ways to our corrals. I was in D and they started in E. I wanted to stop to take character pics and they did not want to stop, so it worked out great that at mile 7 I texted them and found out that they were literally not even two blocks behind me. So I waited for them and we finished together which was a huge moral booster. I don't mind running solo, but boy those miles seem to fly by when you have friends or someone to talk with.
I trained hard to get a proof time for a better corral than just the last corral. So finding out I was only a few corrals from the back was nerve racking when it came to deciding if I should stop for pics with certain characters. I knew I wanted some, but how many, how often? I had no idea since this was my first RunDisney half marathon and first RunDisney event. I knew I wanted that iconic castle and World of Color pic, but I had no idea who would be along the route to take pics with or how many stops there would be. I was deathly afraid to get "swept" from being too slow. So I knew ahead of time that A) I wasn't stopping every time, it really depended on how many people were in line  B) I wanted to use a regular bathroom not a portapotty! C) I wanted to enjoy myself and this was for me! I did run with my small handheld camera and I'm glad I did! The people who take your professional photo along the race are not Disney photopass people, they are an outside photo company who charge you $80 to get your photos digitally downloaded or $20 if you want just one! I got plenty of good, almost not blurry photos that cast members along the route took for me. They were so nice and willing to take photos in front of the castle, characters, etc. So all in all I ended up taking 6 pictures with characters, 2 of just the characters - Darth and Hook. Photo ops I skipped - Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan w/Wendy, Lightning McQueen with Mater, The Lost Boys, Monsters University characters, maybe one more I can't remember.

 I also stopped for a few landmark pictures! Love those! I did do Instagram along the way and that fed my Twitter feed too. I used my Nike+ watch to track my run to save my battery life of my phone. That method worked well! Although when I uploaded my watch to Nike+ it logged my run for 2013, not 2014!

 If you have family at the finish or even at home that want to track your progress - sign them up for runner tracker! It was nice to know that my hubby knew where I was in mileage and an estimated arrival time. He also was able to tell me my pace along the way since I had no clue since my watch was factoring in all my stops! Runner Tracker is available for the half marathon a few weeks before the run. I signed up my mom, husband and my dad. I should have signed myself up for it so I would know my stats too! 

Overall I would definitely do this race again. Being that it was my first race it was splendid! I did have some shoe issues and I didn't heed the advice of nothing new on race day and I think that attributed to my problems. I ended up removing one pair of my socks at mile 6 since I felt like three toes had hot spots from the socks rubbing in my shoe. I also stopped twice to retie my shoe tighter. I loved the course, the encouraging people that came out to cheer us on and the other runners. It was a memory that will stay with me. My first run of 13.1 miles - something I would have never in a million years thought I would do in my lifetime! It just shows that if you put your mind to something and train hard - your efforts will pay off. You can achieve your goals and dreams! As corny as that seems.  
So thankful that my hubby got up early and got all three girls to the finish line to see me pass. They were troopers to wait over an hour and a half, with no snacks and they were sooo hungry! (Although they did have snack in the backpack in the stroller the whole time...daddy forgot that mommy told him that!) Ha! If you are on the fence on whether or not you should do one of these Disney runs, sign up! Start running or walking and make those dreams come true!

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