Monday, January 30, 2017

Wednesday Across the Parks

We started out on Wednesday by doing a character breakfast at Chef Mickey's. I have memories of doing a character breakfast when I was 2, and it was really important to me to get to do this with Connor. The food was great, and we really enjoyed seeing the characters!

I figured we needed at least one day to play it by ear, so I didn't make a plan for this day other than the breakfast reservation. After we ate, we decided it was a good day to go back to Animal Kingdom since we left early when we went the first time.

Little man picked out some binoculars for a souvenir and had fun using them around the park, especially when we went on the Safari ride.

We also enjoyed riding Everest a few times, loving every minute of it!

We saw the Lion King and Finding Nemo shows to round out our afternoon.

Adam and I decided we wanted a few hours to go check out the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, so Connor went with all the grandparents to hang out in Magic Kingdom while we had a bit of a date night.

We walked all over trying all the samples that we thought looked the best. Our favorite was definitely the filet mignon and cheddar soup in Canada, but we had a great time being alone together for a bit and checking things out.

Once we got back to the Magic Kingdom, Adam decided to say goodnight and head back to the hotel. The rest of us stayed at MK until they closed at midnight. We were able to ride quite a few things after watching the fireworks, and Connor had a blast! We all crashed hard once we got back to the room!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Tuesday at Epcot

We started our day at Epcot, knowing we wouldn't spend a full day here.

Since they had Magic Hours in the morning, we got there by 8am and rode Test Track a couple of times during the hour before the park opened to everyone else. We rode it together the first time, but then we used the single rider line to ride it about 3 more times. Connor thought it was awesome!

We had Fast Passes at Soarin', Spaceship Earth, and Mission Space. Then we had lunch in France and walked around the entire World Showcase. We also hit up the character spot!

We rode Journey into Imagination and watched the Michael Jackson 3D show in the afternoon, and then we headed over to Universal Studios for our reservation at the Sci-Fi drive in theater. Connor thought it was pretty cool to sit in an old car and get to pretend like we were at a drive-in. We also managed to squeeze in a few rides on our favorite, the Tower of Terror!

All of the parks closed pretty early this evening, so we were back in our rooms around 8 and got to bed early. We had been having a ton of fun, but we were definitely feeling tired after another fun, full day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Monday at Magic Kingdom

Monday was our main day to be at Magic Kingdom. I had planned for us to wear our shirts we had made on this day since we would be doing a special lunch and some of the character spots along with riding lots of rides!

I had planned about four surprise deliveries for Connor during the week there, and he got one when he woke up. I had made these fun cards to give him a few things (that I bought before we went to save some cash) as if they were delivered to our hotel by the characters. He thought it was neat!

We got to MK and got busy with some rides, especially since our first Fast Pass was at Space Mountain. This kid LOVES roller coasters. We rode some other things and then had our second FP at Peter Pan before our lunch reservation at Be Our Guest. I was thrilled we were able to get a spot, and we all enjoyed some yummy food and the grey stuff!

We spent the afternoon riding as much as we could, including the Seven Dwarves Mine Train with our last Fast Pass. We also visited several different character spots, tried the brew at Gaston's, and took quite a few pictures for the Memory Maker. I am SO glad we bought it. Since the grandparents were going, we split the price 3 ways to make it more affordable. We love that we have all these really great photos together from around the parks, with characters, and on rides.

After using our last Fast Pass, we went over to Hollywood Studios for dinner at the Italian restaurant before heading back over to the Magic Kingdom. After we rode a few things, everyone except me, Nana, and Connor decided to go back to the hotel. The three of us decided to close down the park!

We were able to ride some of the Fantasyland stuff that others weren't as interested in doing (Small World, tea cups, etc.) as well as do the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain several times since Connor loved them so much! I also got to take him on Dumbo, which was special to me since it was one of my favorites when I was little.

Once the park closed, we decided to get some ice cream and hang out for a bit in the hopes of being able to see the goodnight kiss on the castle. We got this to share, but I'm pretty sure it was gone within three minutes. Nana and I only got a couple of bites.

We did get to see the kiss goodnight, and then we headed back to the hotel to crash so we could have more fun again tomorrow!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Race Report: Zoo Run Run 1.21.17

As part of our goal to run one race per month in 2017, Adam and I ran the Zoo Run Run 5K at the Nashville Zoo on Saturday, January 21. We have a zoo membership so we were able to save $5 on our entries, making them $30 each since we registered before December 31.

We've been having unusually warm weather the last couple of weeks, so we didn't have to bundle up like we expected when we registered. It was nice to wear shorts and short sleeves!

We arrived about an hour before race time, and it's a good thing we did. The line to get your stuff was ridiculous. They had ONE place with two people to pick up your bib. Ridiculous. I had said years ago that I would never run another race managed by I Run for the Party, so shame on me for doing so. The long line was the first reminder of why I don't like races they manage. There is just no reason to not have multiple volunteers and lines for people to quickly check in. It's a big event, and I have no doubt most people pre-registered. They knew how many people were coming, so there's no reason to not be prepared.

Once we finally got up there, we were handed the next two numbers in the stack. If you wanted to have a timing chip and a number assigned to you, you had to pay more. Ridiculous. I get it that the zoo is a non-profit, and they didn't want to pay for timing chips unless people wanted them. However, it is not common in the area to have to pay more for a chip. Maybe I know too much from having planned quite a few races, but I think a better option is to have chips for everyone at the same registration price and allow people to opt out. It's easy to add a note in that section of online registration saying that you can save the zoo money if you opt out and to please do so if you don't care about your time.

Once we finally got everything (the shirt was a long-sleeve cotton shirt in a nice blue with a rhino on the front - a bit simplistic, but at least I'll wear it), we took stuff back to the car and walked around for a bit.

The race didn't start on time (no surprise there with the long lines at check-in), we couldn't hear any of the announcements, and the start line was so crowded that we could barely get into the pack. It became clear that there were a lot of people there who do not have much race experience. I have NO problem with this; however, because no one could hear announcements and there wasn't enough room in the start area, walkers and strollers were all up in the very front. We didn't line up all that far back, and we spent the first mile trying to get past all the people who weren't even running.

We knew that we would not see animal as we ran, but I wasn't expecting to have such a boring run. Most of the race is on paths that are sort of behind the scenes of the zoo, and there just wasn't much to look at. We did get to run through the zoo toward the end, and it was neat. However, the entire race, the paths are super narrow and can't handle as many runners as were out there.

My biggest beef is that the course was short by about a tenth of a mile. I figured I was going to finish and my watch tell me I ran long because I was running on the outside on all the turns, etc. When I finished and it said 2.99 and Adam's said 3.0 (he ran a bit more inside than me), I was baffled. Our Apple watches are pretty accurate, so it was frustrating to feel like the course was measured short. I don't think it's a certified course, so I know that's always a risk. It just doesn't help my "I'm not running I Run for the Party events" mentality.

It was nice that they had Little Caesar's pizza and Michelob Ultra at the end. We had a slice of pizza and beer, but then we took off since we knew traffic getting out of the zoo would be bad if we hung around too long.

We finished in around 35 minutes after a combination of running and walking. We're excited to see the times drop as we get back in better shape.

All in all, we were glad to get our first race done and support the zoo. However, we're unlikely to do this race again. I'm also back to my stance on not running races managed by this crew.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday at the Animal Kingdom

Before moving on to other topics, I'm going to finish writing about our October 2015 Disney World vacation.

We woke up on Sunday morning and headed to the Animal Kingdom to be there when they opened at 9am. We were a little tired from being out so late at the Magic Kingdom, but that didn't deter our excitement!

I'm no stranger to the strategy of a successful Disney trip, so we had our first Fast Pass for the safari. We were able to see quite a few animals since it was so early, and little man said it was better than the zoos he's been to before!

We headed to do the Dinosaur ride, and Connor thought it was awesome! I'm so glad we waited until he was old enough to really love rides and being scared a bit.

Our last Fast Pass was for the Everest ride, and it had started to sprinkle a bit. Have no fear - I packed ponchos! None of our ride photos were great due to where we were sitting and wearing the ponchos, but Connor got off saying it was awesome!

We wandered around for a bit, but it was starting to rain harder. To be honest, we were all a little cranky from only getting about 5 hours of sleep. I had originally planned for this to be our only time at Animal Kingdom and to stay until close so we could see the shows and ride Everest a few more times. Since they closed at 6pm, we'd head back to the hotel for dinner and an early bedtime. But it was clear no one was going to have fun if we tried to do that - we just didn't have it in us to keep going off adrenaline. (This is the difference between traveling with a child and grandparents vs. alone. Had it been just Adam and me, we could've swung it.)

Adam and I did a little research on the Disney app (this trip was my first time with it, and I love it!) and decided we should go take a nap and then take advantage of Magic Hours that night at Hollywood Studios (which will forever be MGM in my brain, so I have to force myself to type the current name).

We made our way back to the buses and then our hotel where we napped for a solid 2 hours. The kiddo complained a bit about having to take a nap, as he has well outgrown them on any normal day. However, once we got him settled, he passed out like a rock. We all woke up feeling like new people!

We took the bus over to HS and enjoyed some dinner at Pizza Planet before walking around a bit.

Once our food had settled, we took Connor on Tower of Terror! We knew he would love it, but we also expected him to be a little nervous, too. We've learned that the best way to handle such things is to just talk about how much fun something is going to be and not even let him think there's anything to be nervous about. He was still a bit antsy, but he loved all of the staging on the way to the ride so I think by the time we got on he was pretty excited!

We got one of my favorite ride photos from his first time on this ride! Find us in the front row on the right. 

He had a BLAST!!! I think we rode it several times that night before the park closed. He kept asking Nana why she wouldn't ride it and telling her how she was missing out. My mom has never ridden this ride and probably sat on a bench for over 2 hours back in the 90s when my dad, sister and I rode it for the first time. (Foreshadowing.) Once the park closed, we headed back to get a full night's sleep before heading to the Magic Kingdom again the next day.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Disney World Surprise!

So back in October 2015, we surprised Connor on his fall break and went to Disney World!

Adam and I knew when we got married that we wanted to take him once we thought he was old enough to remember the trip and tall enough to ride everything. We decided in late 2014 that his fall break 2015 would be a perfect time to go, so we started planning. Our parents decided to go with us, and we all booked in January.

And then we managed to keep it a secret for almost 10 months!

We got everything packed, and we took him to the airport on a Saturday morning. He figured out we were going somewhere of course, but he still had no idea.

We had him open a gift to tell him where we were going - a t-shirt with his name and Mickey Mouse! He very quickly said, "We're going to Disney World!!" and was so excited!

It took us a lot of the day to get there, but when I found out the Magic Kingdom had Magic Hours until 2am, we decided it was worth an extra day of tickets. We took the Magical Express from the airport to our resort, All Star Sports. Connor thought the hotel was pretty neat, but we weren't there long before hopping on a bus to the MK. We hit the park around 6pm and played until 2am!

First, we got our family photo at the entrance. Little dude had NO idea what he was in for at this point!

We managed to catch a parade when we walked in, and then we headed to a quick serve spot to grab some dinner so we were fueled up for our evening. We walked around for a bit and rode the People Mover and Carousel of Progress so we could ease into things after eating. Then, we rode Space Mountain (he LOVED it) and a few other things including the new Little Mermaid ride since I got us a Fast Pass. (It was cute, but I wouldn't have wanted to wait a long time for it.)

Since we were getting there so late in the day, I did Fast Passes for the electrical parade and fireworks. I was so glad we did since we got some prime spots. He loved them!

Then we spent the rest of the night riding as much as we could. One of the first things we did was the Haunted Mansion, and I think this was as loved as Space Mountain. This kid loves him some Halloween/spook stuff, so it was also great that the parks were decorated for the holiday.

Connor did great at playing hard until 2am, especially considering we'd had a 6:30am flight! We went back to the hotel and crashed so that we could rest up for our first full day tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


It's official. Adam and I now each possess a Master's degree!

While there wasn't any pomp and circumstance in picking up our diplomas and transcripts from the academic records office, it was still exciting to get these in hand.

I have to brag on us a bit and share that we both finished our programs with all A's!

I now have my Master of Organizational Leadership, and Adam has his Master of Business Administration. After 18 months of incredibly hard work balancing working full-time and doing normal life while also pursuing these degrees, we're really proud to have these pieces of paper and all that they represent.

Trevecca has only one graduation ceremony each year, so we have to wait until May to walk. It's a little anti-climatic I suppose, but it's going to be fun to do the cap and gown photos together. I'm pretty sure we'll be able to sit together during the ceremony, too. Our families will enjoy getting to see us walk across the stage, and we think it's important for Connor to understand what it all means. He's certainly been part of the journey as he had many an afternoon or evening he had to entertain himself while we did homework.

Fittingly, we are working now on planning a vacation this year to celebrate. We haven't really had a true weeklong vacation together just the two of us since our honeymoon, and we feel like the time has come! Stay tuned for more info as those plans unfold.