Running the Tinkerbell Half Marathon

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Running this half marathon was seriously one of the most empowering experiences of my entire life. In the days leading up to the race, I was on a roller coaster of emotions. I went from being crazy excited to crazy nervous and up and down and everywhere in between.

This post is one big ol’ photo dump of me running, which you obviously all need to see, so do yourself a favor and scroll on down. You will also be rewarded for your scrolling effort with all the deets of the race.

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My aunt, Darla, flew into town on Thursday evening and we raced off to get airbrush tans because when you think half marathon, you obviously think amazing tan minus any risk of skin cancer. But the thing is, with a spray tan it has to process for like 10 hours before you can shower. In that 10 hours it like doubles in darkness and then once you rinse, it’s all gorgeous. But we wanted to leave so early on Friday morning that we wouldn’t have made it through those 10 hours yet so we were forced to head off on our expedition as we got continuously darker.

We got to California Friday evening and headed to Downtown Disney for dinner with my Uncle (who graciously let us stay with him during the duration of our trip). While my Uncle waited for our table reservation at The Jazz Kitchen, which was superb by the way, Darla and I headed off to get our packets and info for the race.

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^^We naturally took an obscene number of selfies in the process.

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^^Posing in front of a map of the race. Notice the dark tans. Don’t worry, they lighten up by race day.

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^^Give me wings Tinkerbell!

They had this cool expo with a bunch of vendors selling awesome Disney workout type merch. Plus lots of people selling tutu’s and and bows and glitter and all that good stuff. I ended up with a cute “leg day” Ariel shirt and Darla got a glow in the dark Tinkerbell half shirt.

We spent Saturday at California Adventure and low and behold I started to get sick. Like so sick I couldn’t breath through my nose at all (Thanks children). I ended up running around the park in search of nasal decongestant. I started getting way worried about the race. How do you run 13.1 miles when you can’t breath through your nose? Like for real? Much to Darla’s dismay I convinced her to call it an early day, hit a few drugstores, go to bed early and set our alarms for 3:00 AM. Eeek!

Surprisingly on Sunday morning it wasn’t at all hard to wake up. I think we were both just so excited. The race officially started at 5:30 AM but everyone started in corrals based on their speed. We didn’t care to pretend that we were going to finish in any exciting amount of time so we ended up in corral E of A-F.

By the time we actually crossed the start line, we had already walked over a mile and it was 6:00 AM.

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^^I made our tutus and Darla made our shirts

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I tried to keep pace with Darla but it turns out I’m actually pretty competitive and really wasn’t a fan of people passing me, so I found myself weaving in and out of people and I lost her before we made it to the first mile marker.

We had these electronic things in our race bibs that corresponded with the mile markers and kept track of our pace. The coolest part is that we set it up to send texts to our families to update them where we were. That was especially nice for us because we didn’t have any family members on the sidelines cheering us on. In retrospect, I’d really like to have my family there for the next race (yes, I did say next race. How perceptive you are).

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Additionally, I was taking selfies the whole time and sending them along to my mom and Chris. You’ll notice the time on the mile marker boards. However, it was based on the race starting at 5:30 and we didn’t actually start until 6:00 so you can factor that in with your mad math skills.

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The race started in downtown Disney and we worked our way into Disneyland.

I got stupid weepy as I ran into the park. Like seriously, I started tearing up. There were these families on the sidelines holding up signs and little girls with their dads cheering on their moms in the race and I just couldn’t help but wish that my husband and kids were there.

I saw one guy like three times over the course of the race and he had a sign that said, “Go first timers, you got this!” And once again, I got all teary-eyed, every time I saw it.

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The course took us behind the scenes of Disneyland and California Adventure. The park wasn’t open yet but all the cast members (Disney employees) were clapping and cheering and encouraging us. They even had some of the rides going, like Dumbo and the carousel. It helped that I had just been to Disneyland with my family so everywhere I looked I was struck with a sweet memory of my daughter seeing Disneyland for the first time.

 

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^^in cars land, although it forreal looks like I’m in Moab, Utah. Disney is so cool.

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^^The Photopass photographers caught my strong selfie game on camera. What do you call a photo of someone taking a selfie?

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^^”Gang gang bang bang!” Or is it “Bang bang gang gang”? I’m so old.

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By about mile 6 we were out of the parks and just on the streets of Anaheim. This was kind of a bummer because Anaheim is not the prettiest of cities and after about mile 6 you’re starting to get tired and run down and could really use the motivation of being in the parks.

I was able to run straight for about the first 6 miles, so by the time I did hit mile 6 I started taking a lot of walking breaks. Also, TMI here, but my shorts, which I borrowed from Darla, kept riding up and created a sort of chaffing situation making it so that every time I moved my legs in a walking or running motion it was like taking fine grit sandpaper and rubbing it on my inner thighs with full strength.

The good news is that it hurt whether I was walking or running, so it didn’t keep me from moving faster. I kept thinking that the more I ran, the faster I could finish and sit down.

I never really got too exhausted though. All along the streets of Anaheim people were sitting and cheering us on and holding up posters. There were high school marching bands playing and cheerleaders cheering and dance teams dancing.

Every so often there were tables set up with water and Gatorade and like a million volunteers handing them out to us as we ran by. I made myself stop and get a drink of water every time for an extra boost of energy. Although one time, I was so caught up in the moment that I forgot to stop running and ended up pouring water all over myself.

There were also people handing out snacks. I passed on the freaky energy gel, but accepted candy from strangers. They were holding up signs that said, “Take some candy from strangers!” “It’s legit, we’re wearing gloves.”

They were passing out licorice which sounded disgusting at first but then all of a sudden as I was passing them sounded really appealing.

My two favorite signs were,

“Go Random Stranger, Go!” and even better,

“Never trust a fart!” — So fitting for runners.

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^^Crossing the finish line like a boss!

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^^Go ahead and just hum the Rocky song here for full effect.

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^^Darla got some amazing burst of energy and actually sprinted over the finish line.

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After crossing the finish line, everyone was handed their medal, a bottle of water, a bottle of Gatorade, and led towards the refreshments. On the way was the first aid tent where I waddled like a cowboy and got some vaseline to soothe my wounds.

Darla met me right outside the refreshment line. While she went to the bathroom, I collapsed onto a weird spacey trash bag blanket thing (you know what I’m talking about?) and immediately took of my shoes. And then I couldn’t really find the energy to put them back on.

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Our little refreshment boxes had chips and nacho cheese and Oreos which sounded super unappealing. But they also came with bananas and apple sauce which also sounded terribly unappealing but Darla made me eat them anyways.

When we finally managed to get up and go back to the car, we decided that if we went back to my Uncle’s apartment we’d lay down and never make it back to Disneyland. Which would be awful since we did buy 3-day park hopper tickets. So we took a little break sitting in the car for a while and then went to Downtown Disney where we bought overpriced yoga pants (since we were basically naked) and flip flops and made our way to Disneyland.

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^^Chillin’ in the car.

We stayed in Disneyland ALL. DAY. LONG. By that evening we were ridiculously slap happy. Like laughing at everything. And I mean everything. In line for Pirates of the Caribbean at the end of the day, we realized we had been awake for 20 hours. 20!

We had a super yummy dinner but ended up sitting on the porch of the restaurant because we didn’t want to wait forever for a table inside. And unfortunately it was super cold and we were still basically naked in our running gear.

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^^Just so tired. So much sleepiness. Also, the server gave us warm towelettes and we promptly put them in our shirts. Because brr.

At the end of the trip we decided to keep doing Disney races together and involve our families. But only sometimes. Because sometimes it’s just nice to have a weekend at Disneyland with your bestie and without your kids.

Stay tuned for all the exciting adventures of our Disney trip aside from the race itself!

 

 

 

 

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore: Book Review

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Summary

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

—Goodreads

Review

I picked up Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore as I was headed to check out my books at the library. The bright cover caught my eye and the title hooked me immediately. Why would you need a 24 hour bookstore? Who is going to a bookstore at all hours of the night? Surely it’s a front for something, right? (I mean all 24 hour establishments are. Obviously.) Whoever said you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover is very wrong. How else do you decide to read it?

This book is full of mystery and intrigue from the moment you open the front cover. The language is easy to read but it delves into deeper meaning that keeps the reader enthralled making it more than superficial entertainment.

With a mixture of love and mystery, this novel falls into the “this is life” genre (patent pending). It’s the story of one man who finds himself out of work and ends up with a job in a place that even he doesn’t understand. But the night shift at a 24 hour bookstore is full of mysteries just waiting to be uncovered.

The story explores the dichotomy between electronic words on devices and computers and the physical printed word. Which is better? Is there a compelling argument for sticking with the physical books of the past?

Each character in this book is full of quirks and excitement; even the smallest of supporting roles. This story will have you thinking, feeling, imagining, and wondering. All reasons to make Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore next on your reading list.

VERDICT: READ IT!!

{That one time} Baby Jaguar got Lost

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If you have a toddler, there’s a fairly good chance that you’ve seen Go Diego Go. If you have, you probably know who Baby Jaguar is. Despite the fact that Evelyn loves Winnie the Pooh and Frozen and Sleeping Beauty, she has a stuffed toy that she has deemed Baby Jaguar and he is her absolute favorite toy in the whole world.

He comes everywhere with us. I can’t help but wonder if he’s a bit like Woody from Toy Story though, because he keeps getting lost. So now, I would like to present to you:

That one time Baby Jaguar got Lost

–written from Baby Jaguar’s perspective—

It’s quite apparent that all the other toys are jealous of me. I get to play with everyone. Evelyn likes to keep stories together so generally Olaf and Sven and Ana and Elsa play at the same time or Pooh and Tigger and Eeyore and Piglet. Except for me that is. I play with everyone. Evelyn takes me everywhere. I’ve gotten to see way more of the outside world than any of the other toys have but that hasn’t always been a great thing. Like a couple of weeks ago…

Evelyn dragged me out the front door and the warmth of the sun felt wonderful on my synthetic fur. She settled into one side of the big red stroller, next to the slobbery one, but soon decided that she didn’t want to hold me anymore. It’s okay. I know it can be tiring to hold a toy all the time. So I got comfy in the bottom of the stroller. But we were going faster than we had ever before. I tried to relax but as soon as a got comfortable there was a bump and I hit my head. I slid from side to side and got tangled in coats and blankets. I felt my stuffing rolling around in my head.

After a while, I tried to peek out of the basket and see what was going on. I climbed out of a tangle of blankets and all I could see was grass and cars speeding by. As I attempted to get my bearings we hit a big bump and then, all the moving stopped. I went into default mode and stayed as still as possible, just in case there were any people around. But when I finally got up to look, I was all alone. Evelyn and the big red stroller and even the slobbery one were nowhere to be found.

The sidewalk was rough under my feet and a couple of times I snagged them attempting to catch up and find Evelyn. Finally I gave up and laid down and waited. And waited. And waited. People and cars passed me but no one ever stopped. I eventually closed my eyes and tried feel the sun’s warm blanket instead of the cold sadness in my lonely heart.

But then, someone picked me up.

It was Evelyn’s daddy. He grabbed me and swiftly jogged to his truck. He tossed me into the passenger’s seat and away we zoomed. Before I knew it, we were in some store and Evelyn’s daddy placed me right into her arms. She hugged me so tight, I felt my stuffing starting to squeeze out of my ears. She held me safely under her arm and we ran everywhere! Sometimes she set me down so she could try on hat or a climb a ladder but I didn’t mind. We were reunited at last!

We went into an aisle filled with bags of all different shapes and sizes. Evelyn tried out a lot of the bags. There were even some with wheels on them! Those were Evelyn’s favorites. She even gave me a ride in one of them. She laid me inside and zipped it up tight. I couldn’t see anything but I could tell we were going fast. It was so fun! Sometimes we stopped but we always started going again, faster than before. Until we didn’t. I heard Evelyn crying and then I heard nothing at all. We didn’t move for a very long time.

After a while, I unzipped a tiny spot in the bag and peeked out. All I could see were legs and shoes walking around. I didn’t dare attempt an escape, in case I was spotted. I stayed inside that dark bag for so long. Just praying that Evelyn would save me. It seemed like forever before someone unzipped the bag. And there was Evelyn’s daddy again!

“I found him!” He exclaimed.

I looked around but I couldn’t find Evelyn anywhere. Then I noticed that Evelyn’s daddy was talking into one of those glowing squares that Evelyn stares at sometimes. It has moving pictures but I’ve never really understood the appeal.

Just like before, Evelyn’s daddy threw me into his truck, but this time we didn’t go find Evelyn. I stayed in the truck for a long time. It was so sad and lonely. I didn’t think I’d ever see Evelyn ever again. It must have been days before I saw Evelyn’s daddy get back in the truck (well..maybe one day). We drove again for a little while and before I knew it, he was giving me back to Evelyn.

“Baby Jaguar!! I saved you!” She said.

She gave me another big hug. I think she was so happy, she’ll never lose me again. Right?

10 Weird New Year’s Superstitions

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We all know that we want to give someone a kiss as the clock strikes midnight and the calendars roll over to January…but do you know why?

Snopes.com lists several New Year’s Superstitions and why people do them, but I’ve summarized them here for you. I’m so nice.

001 The Midnight Kiss

Kissing a loved one on midnight is not only a way to celebrate together, but it also ensures the affection between you will continue for the next 12 months. Failing to have that midnight kiss will start a year of coldness.

002 A Handsome Man will come a Knocking

The first person who comes into your house after the stroke of midnight will be reflective of the kind of year you’ll have. Naturally you’re gonna want that person to be hot..er uh..handsome.

“Ideally, he should be dark-haired, tall, and good-looking, and it would be even better if he came bearing certain small gifts such as a lump of coal, a silver coin, a bit of bread, a sprig of evergreen, and some salt.” Obvi.

Also, make sure your handsome fella is actually a fella. A woman would bring disaster on your household. It’s recommended that you aim a gun at them to ward them off lest they come into your house before a man does. You guys..I’m not making this up.

Likewise a blonde or redhead man simply will not do unless you want bad luck for the upcoming year.

“First footers must not be cross-eyed or have flat feet or eyebrows that meet in the middle.” Well that goes without saying.

Once your handsome man drops off his gifts he has to make his way through the house and leave through a different door. No one else can leave the house until the handsome man (also known as a first footer) enters. The first movement across the threshold of your home must be entering and not leaving. Which brings us to…

003 Nothing leaves the house

Like nothing…absolutely NOTHING can leave the house on New Years Day. Not even garbage. If you have deliveries to make, put them in the car before the stroke of midnight. Don’t even think about shaking out a rug or anything else for that matter.

The year must begin by something being added to the home before anything is subtracted from it. It is indicative of the year ahead of you.

Someone who is celebrating all alone could put a basket of treats on his front porch, right outside the door with a string tied to it and after midnight pull the basket in by the string, careful not to reach out and grab the basket.

004 Lucky Food

If you want luck in the new year, make sure black eyed peas and some kind of green something are on the menu. Other acceptable foods are pork, lentil soup (lentils look like coins which equal financial goodness. duh.) and sauerkraut (mainly because it goes well with pork apparently).

Stay far away from poultry of any kind. Birds scratch at the ground which symbolizes the eater scratching for money the whole rest of the year. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

005 Work

Do a little bit of work similar to your career on New Year’s day and be successful at it BUT DON’T do too much because that’s bad luck.

Also stay away from doing laundry because that means that someone close to you could wash away (i.e. die) in the coming months. And to be safe you probably should do the dishes either.

006 New Threads

Wear new clothes on Jan 1 to make it more likely that you’ll receive more new clothes in the coming year. Done and done.

007 Financial Luck

Don’t pay any debts or give out loans on new years day lest you want to be paying them all the year long.

008 Breaking something

Breaking anything encourages wreckage to be apart of your new year. No one wants wreckage. Oh and crying…not a good idea. Unless you want to be sad for the next 12 months.

009 Stock up

Go out and do all your grocery shopping TODAY! Any bare cupboards come January 1 will be a symbol of how they will look for the whole year.

010 Out with a bang

Once the clock strikes midnight, all the doors in the house must be opened to let the old year out. Also it’s important to be as loud as humanly possible to scare away the evil spirits…so..yeah.

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It’s not to late. You can still run to the store for some black eyed peas and new clothes and take out all the garbage before midnight. But I hope you’ve found your handsome man already. Those can be hard to come by.

 

A little bit of fear and adrenaline

It’s important to do things in life that scare you. I don’t like to get too comfortable in the day to day. I want to mix it up and feel challenged. When you get scared, you get adrenaline and that’s something that makes life more exciting to live.

As summer came to a close I went on two little mini vacays which was nice since I didn’t get to much else this summer, what with having a newborn and all. Both of these trips allowed me the opportunity to push out of my comfort zone and get my heart racing. I’ll present them to you in two separate stories below:

**Note: I most likely did not probably make up or exaggerate most and or all of the following details in the two stories below. More or less…ya feel me?**

Story Number 1:

That one time I nearly got eaten and mauled to death by a carnivorous mountain bear of doom

 

 

For Labor Day weekend we decided to pack up and head into the mountains with some friends for a few fun days of cabin camping. Our group consisted of two burly mountain-ish men, two girly toddling toddlers, two mamas-one of whom was great with child, and a babbling, bubbling 2 month old tot. Hence the plan to camp in a cabin with actual beds and not in a tent with non actual bed-like aparatusi.

The night grew pitch black as we drove a ten passenger van up the windy mountain roads. At times it was hard to navigate and without cell reception, we were only guessing that we were going in the right direction.

My heart was beating fast as we took one hairpin turn after another in a vehicle that did not seem conducive to the road conditions. The road took a steep incline and we went up, up, up past a teeny outhouse looking building right off the side of the road.

“What is that,” I pondered.

“That’s where Jason Voorhees keeps the bodies.”

Just then a tree branch grabbed hold of the van’s windows with a loud screech. The loud gasp that escaped my mouth was apparently hilarious to my companions.

We unloaded the van using only the light of the full moon. On one of my trips back to the van I found myself outside alone. I grabbed a big bag of food and struggled to carry it toward the cabin when a rustling in the bushes not five feet away got my attention. I whipped my head to the right but nothing was there. When I brought up the strange sound, the rest of my friends agreed that they had heard it too. With that realization we locked the cabin doors and each hunkered down in one of the four side by side beds in the loft.

That night, our friend’s cute toddling tot woke up shrieking in what appeared to be a night terror. No amount of hugging, comforting, or assuring would calm her down. Magically she didn’t wake up the other kids. Not long after she finally relaxed back to sleep, us four adults were awakened by the the abrupt sound of hail pounding on the tin roof. The noise was so loud that Chris and I had to yell at the top of our voices to be heard and we were only a few inches apart. Once again, by some magical force, none of the kids woke up. Little did I know that this restless night of commotion was only a small foreshadowing to the terror that awaited me early the next morning.

On Saturday, being the fitness goddess that I am, I set my alarm early and woke up to workout. After a 30 minute Jillian Michaels workout DVD I was feeling pumped and energized and ready to start my day. I sat out on a wooden swing on the large wraparound porch, breathed in the cool mountain air and enjoyed the quiet stillness of the morning. As a mama of two littles it was a feeling I didn’t get to experience often.

I was feeling so jazzed about life that I decided to go for a quick little jog before everyone else woke up. The morning was so breezy and quiet and the view so pretty I figured it was the perfect atmosphere. I started my descent down the steep gravel driveway at a quick walk. The road was so steep that I was afraid I would slip if I sped up my pace at all. I went past the ‘Jason Voorhees’ shack, which didn’t look nearly as frightening in the light of day, and down the rest of the driveway where I found myself in a cul de sac. I stopped for a minute to look up at the beautiful trees that framed a gorgeous morning sky.

I pulled out my phone and began to take pictures of the mountains and trees and that’s when I heard it. A sound I can only describe as a loud exhaling of breath from the nostrils of a large beast. I gave myself whip lash as I turned to see where the sound came from. Just up from where I was standing, a few feet over from the subject of my photos, was a mass of black fur. I stood frozen in fear for what seemed like minutes. Then it’s head shot up and we locked eyes. It had seen me, the largest most ferocious looking bear I had ever seen outside of a natural history museum. It took me seconds to realize what I needed to do and I took off running back up the steep incline of the gravel driveway.

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^^The bear was just out of the right side of the frame of this photo

It seemed like the bear was quite a ways away from me but I had no idea how fast they could run or if my sudden movement would catch his attention. My thighs burned from my workout as I ran faster than I thought possible up the steepest incline. I had barely gotten halfway up the driveway when I heard the gravel crunch behind me. His steps were quick, something I’d compare to a gallop, and I knew he wasn’t far behind. I pushed on harder and faster, the cool air that I was just enjoying had begun to burn my lungs as I heaved in breath after breath.

I started to fear that my legs might give out at any moment but I knew that I couldn’t slow my pace let alone stop. I neared the top of the driveway and turned the corner to see the cabin in view. I was so close. As I turned I caught a glimpse of black fur in my peripheral vision. I tried to speed up but it was no use, my legs were weakening and I was losing momentum. I couldn’t help but slow down the tiniest bit and it was just enough to give him the advantage. He got close enough to me that I could hear his breath and nearly feel it on my back.

That gave me a shot of adrenaline that propelled me up the front porch and into the front door. I slammed it hard just in time to hear his massive body crash into it. My fingers fumbled in an attempt to lock the door as if that could somehow keep him. It was still for a moment and I thought he left but my peace was fleeting as only seconds later his body once again smashed into the door, harder this time.

The door came crashing into me and knocked me to the floor into the kitchen. I briefly used the door as a shield until his claws managed to pierce the wood and come within inches of my face. I managed to roll out from underneath it and grab the only weapon I could find: a broom.

The beast came charging at me, jaw wide, saliva spewing as he roared. I used the broom to brace open his gaping mouth and keep it from closing on me. We struggled for some time around the kitchen, him attempting to claw and bite at any part of me he could reach and me using every bit of strength I had left to push him back with that surprisingly useful broom. At last I was knocked against the fridge where a thought popped into my head.

Holding the bear off with the broom in one hand, I yanked the door open and ripped open a package of raw beef meant for our dinner that night. The bear took one whiff of the dripping package and tried to leap for it. I managed to throw the thing with some force out the front door and deep into the forest.

My hungry foe had lost all interest in me and ran straight for the meat, forgetting his original target. I stood there in the suddenly still kitchen panting, staring at the destruction and wondering what we were going to eat for dinner that night.

 

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Story #2

That one time I almost fell to my death from the top of a steep, slippery desert mountain side

 

Chris and I spent a lovely weekend in Colorado visiting his family and getting to see his brother who had just returned from a two year LDS mission in Virginia. We decided to take our time on the 6 hour drive back home and take in some sights to make the drive more enjoyable. Plus it would give the kids more time out of the car.

[Read more…]

Welcome Fall

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It seemed like a normal summer morning, just like any other. My beautiful summer had been filled with mornings kissing the sweet cheeks of my new son and days tickling the chubby feet of my little princess. My summer newborn limited the season’s activities. Instead of sunbathing I was relaxing and recovering and nursing and cleaning and figuring out what it meant to suddenly be a mom of two. Many a Saturday morning was spent roaming garage sales and furnishing my newly finished house. I missed going on vacation or spending days at the pool, soaking up the rays. I wanted this summer to roll on indefinitely.

But then this morning came and I walked out onto the back deck, unassuming and it hit me. Fall is here.

My senses were overwhelmed. I could smell it in the crisp scent of decaying leaves. I could feel it as I closed my eyes and the breeze brushed across my face with a slight hint of chill. I could see it in the leaves that were slowly turning my yard red and yellow. And just like that I was done with summer.

All it took was a few minutes in the fresh fall air to remember why autumn is and will always be my favorite season. It’s getting to spend time outside without turning into a puddle of sweat. It’s the new colors that appear in nature right when you seem to have forgotten that the world could be anything but green. It’s the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon and baked goods that make your home feel the coziest. It’s that desire to cuddle and read all day. It’s coming inside smelling like smoke after spending an evening basking in the glow of a campfire. It’s the satisfying crunch of stepping on leaves. It’s the chance to redecorate your home in celebration of the new season and pull out the boxes of fall clothes that you forgot you had.

all my senses for fall

Amazingly, this feeling makes me nostalgic for the start of school. I always loved back to school shopping for a new fall wardrobe to show off to my friends and a plethora of office supplies. I know school has been in session for a month or so but it’s only now that I almost wish I could go back. Maybe it’s time to take a trip to the store and stock up on some notebooks and pens, for old times sake.

This year I’m ready for new traditions with my young family. I’m ready to introduce my toddler to hay rides and corn mazes and pumpkin patches. I can’t wait to see her eyes light up as she learns about all the magic that fall brings. I’m excited to share with her my love of Halloween and get to relive my childhood through her tiny self.

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It’s okay for autumn to be a time of nostalgia and remembering all the beautiful childhood memories that shaped me into the person I am today. But that nostalgia is the fire beneath me, motivating me create similar moments for my kids that will beautiful memories for them when they’re building families of their own.

Welcome Fall. Won’t you stay a while?

A Thankful Heart by David A. Christensen + Giveaway

Note: I did receive a complimentary copy of this book but all opinions are my own.

A Thankful Heart blog tour

Summary:

This LDS Non-Fiction book is written by a former mission president and retired religion professor at BYU-Idaho. Each of the 31 chapters focuses on different aspect of how to incorporate thankfulness into your life. The chapters begin with a quote from a leader in the church, continue with a personal anecdote with suggestions on how that aspect of thankfulness is important, and close with questions and scripture references to further your study. The short chapters are broken down into 31 easy-to comprehend principles so you can read it over the course of a month, a chapter a day, and get your daily dose of gratitude.

Verdict:

This book gave me answers to questions that I didn’t know I had. My life as a busy mother of two is hectic and stressful and I often end my days feeling like I haven’t done anything worth while. I have gotten into the very bad habit of complaining a lot. This book showed me why it’s important to have an ‘attitude of gratitude’ and how just slowing down and opening my mind will allow me to notice the Lord’s hand in everything in my life.

My prayers have become more meaningful. My day to day struggles have become a little less difficult. My attitude of complaining is slowly shifting into a more optimistic view of the Lord’s plan for me. I would have never thought that the key to being happier is being more grateful but I am living proof that it is.

My hectic busy schedule taking care of a toddler and an infant doesn’t leave a lot of time for reading. I found that these chapters are short enough that I could easily read one a day. The questions at the end of each chapter are so thought-provoking and have given me great material for my daily journal writing. On days where I didn’t have a lot of time, I would read the chapter and read through the questions but maybe not write my answers in my journal or look up the individual scriptures. On other days where the kids had a longer nap time, I could take my time really pondering how I could improve my life and way of thinking by the principle taught in that chapter. It really is so perfect to be able to incorporate one principle a day; they really build off each other.

I never would have guessed that there were so many different aspects to gratitude but it just goes to show how you can really incorporate it into every little part of your life. I’ve started keeping an ongoing list of my blessings in my phone, it’s a great place to keep it since I can update it anytime. On hard days I’ve been able to take a step back and see all of the Lord’s tender mercies. It’s been humbling to recognize that everything I have and everything I do, I have not done alone. It’s been important for me to realize Heavenly Father’s guiding hand in my life and see that he is setting me on my path and giving me all the tools, I just need to recognize it and follow his plan. And then thank Him for never leaving me comfortless.

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. I want to buy a copy for everyone I know. It’s so easy to read a little bit everyday and Christensen is a great writer. His personal anecdotes are on point and enjoyable to read. This is not a book to read once and set on a shelf to collect dust. It’s a book full of helpful ideas, questions and quotes to refer to on a regular basis.

So are you ready to change your life by developing an attitude of gratitude? You can win an electronic copy of David A. Christensen’s, A Thankful Heart right here on this very blog (lucky you). The instructions to enter are listed below:

  1. Share this post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest
  2. Comment below what you are most thankful for

You have to do both things to enter (I’ll be checking!) Good luck! You have until this Saturday (9/26) at 11pm MST.

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For more info on how to purchase the book or where to get updates from the author on upcoming books and giveaways:
Check out the authors website :: Follow him on Facebook :: Or Instagram @david.a.christensen

{That one time} I was ‘friends with’ Winnie the Pooh

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The sun glared in through the mesh of my ‘mask’ making it impossible to see who I was interacting with let alone whether I was holding their autograph book upside down. I could feel single beads of sweat dripping down my spine one at a time. I was at the tail end of my 20 minute set but it didn’t stop me from making sure every guest got a great memory from their visit with Winnie the Pooh.

I waved with my whole arm starting at the shoulder. I jumped up and down holding hands with a little girl. I blew kisses and gave hugs and, even though no one could see it, I smiled until my cheeks hurt. It was a long day and I left every evening a little sore and sweaty and smelly but nothing could ever replace the experience I had being ‘friends with’ Winnie the Pooh.

We are told to say that we are ‘friends with’ the characters we portray. I suppose the company understands that we’re going to tell our friends and family about our work, they just prefer that we do it with a semblance of mystery for what goes on ‘backstage.’

Thats another fun vocab word that we use. Employees are ‘cast members’, where the guests don’t go is ‘backstage’ and the place where I picked up my costume everyday was the ‘wardrobe.’ (Ok..I guess that last one isn’t super original.)

One of the fun things about being ‘friends with’ the characters at Disney World is that everyday is a little bit different. Yes, the basic schedule is the same, but there are always different interactions with different guests at different locations. In my time there I was ‘friends with’ a lot of different characters, all determined by height. My favorites were probably Winnie the Pooh and Chip and Dale.

I got to work in all four parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Sometimes I even worked in restaurants, visiting guests as they enjoyed a break from the heat and got to sit down and enjoy a meal. If you ask me, that’s a significantly more comfortable way to visit with characters than waiting in line out in the hot sun.

*If you want Winnie the Pooh and his friends to visit you while you eat, head to the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom for breakfast, lunch or dinner.*

I even got to work in an evening parade! But that’s a different story for a different time.

The absolute best part of being ‘friends with’ Disney characters is stepping into their shoes (literally and figuratively) and becoming someone that a guest has waited so long to meet. The feeling of making someone’s day is indescribable. The look in a child’s eye when they recognize you and run up to hug you is like nothing else. The 2 minute interaction you have with them could make their whole vacation.

When even an adult jumps up and down and gives you a tight hug, even though they know you’re not really that silly old bear, it just bares witness to the fact that people decided on a trip to Disney World to be a part of something magical and by stepping into the role as their favorite character, you help provide the magic.

I couldn’t help but smile and mouth words while I met with guests. It gave me an excuse to be as happy as Pooh would be, even if I was having a rough day.

I was larger than life with every movement that I made. You kind of have to be when there’s a full suit of fluff between you and the guests.

I allowed myself to dance and jump and spin and play and be absolutely silly and in doing so gave everyone who came to see me, young or old, permission to do the same.

I loved to think about how many vacation photos I was in, without anyone ever knowing. I had my poses down for each shot. I hardly had to think of what to do before they snapped the picture. Usually it was a popped foot with arm extended. Or hands on hips. Sometimes I’d cross my arms over my chest and go back to back with a guest. Sometimes it was just a big hug for a little kid. And every single time, I would smile.

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^^That’s me with the Minnie ears. Even when I wasn’t in costume,

I couldn’t help but don my classic pose of hand on hip with big cheesy grin. It was just a habit.

On the rare occasions that I didn’t smile, just to try it out, it felt wrong. It felt like the energy I had, that Pooh would have, was gone and he had turned into a limp noodle. Even if I did the same motions and no one could see that I wasn’t smiling, I was certain they’d be able to tell.

Don’t get me wrong though. It was a tough job. Yes, I did get paid 40 minute breaks every 20 minutes but if I didn’t, I probably would have been cooked alive. Sometimes those 40 minutes got pretty boring back in the break room. And it was hard for me to make friends when I was at a different location being ‘friends with’ a different character nearly everyday. Sometimes the costumes were uncomfortable and I’d have a misplaced screw poking me in the head. And you better believe those things were heavy and led to many a back ache.

But if I had to go back in time and decide whether to work at Disney all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

There is nothing quite like wielding the power of Disney magic.

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Originally this post was going to be a day in the life of a Disney World character performer in which I divulged all kinds of secrets and tid bits about what things are like under the costume and behind the scenes. But after some re-reading and editing, I decided that I wanted to preserve the Disney magic, just a little bit.

I’m sure you could find out about that stuff if you looked hard enough…this is the internet after all. But I believe in all the happy feels that come from the magic of Disney and if I tell you all that I know, it might not be as magical anymore. And that’s just unacceptable.

 

Keep an eye out for more posts about my time at Disney World. And if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them as best I can. Leave me some comment love!

 

 

 

{That one time} Dance changed my life

0 headerI was chubby. No really, I was. I had just returned from a 6 month stint of living in England with my favorite Aunt. She just so happened to be pregnant at the time, and pregnant people like to eat, as do preteens going through puberty. Long story short, upon my return home, I was chubby. Not that I really noticed that much. I mean I knew that I had gained a little weight but it didn’t really bother me. I guess I just had really good friends and family who overlooked my roley-poley self.

I didn’t think much about how I looked. That is until I found myself in my first ever dance class wearing a form fitting leotard and surrounded by stick thin girls and wall to wall mirrors. How did I end up in a dance class? 13 years old seemed a little late to start a dancing career when the other girls in my class had a good 10 years of experience on me.

Every week I entered my 1 hour musical theater class with renewed determination and vigor to do the best I could. Those first 30 minutes focused on acting and improv exercises. It was pretty obvious to me that I excelled above the other girls. I think it was obvious to them too. It felt good to be better at something than other people. I wasn’t incredible, by any means, but I had more experience and it showed. But in that second half hour that was focused on upbeat, jazzy, musical theater style dancing I shrank to the back of the room behind everyone else and hoped that no one would notice my inability to mimic even the simplest of dance steps. Every week I left my 1 hour musical theater class more frustrated and feeling worse about myself than I had an hour before.

But I kept going back, week after week, and I slowly got better until I was ready for our end of the year recital. I can still remember the power and adrenaline I felt on that stage under the warm lights. I left the stage panting from exertion and excitement. I sat backstage and watched the other girls who were in multiple classes do quick costume changes and rush back on for yet another dance. At that moment there was only one thing I was sure of, I wanted to be back on that stage as much as I could and I would do whatever it took to get there.

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^^Our song that first year was ‘Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend.’ This was after a whole year of dancing.

When it was time to register for classes for the next year, I went a little above and beyond. I signed up for hip-hop, jazz, musical theater, and tap. By the time the end of the year rolled around I would be in as many dances as I could manage. The only problem was by this point I was in 9th grade, which by age put me in the senior dance classes despite my skill level.

My first class at the beginning of the year was hip-hop. I was nervous at having to once again squeeze into a leotard and stare at myself in a room full of mirrors and thin girls. I soon realized that although I had no idea what I was doing, I wasn’t the only one. I spent every free moment I had practicing the steps I learned in class. I chasséd and grand jetéd down hallways, I chaînéd and pirouetted around the living room. Any empty hallway at school was begging me to leap and turn down it. Just because I wasn’t good yet didn’t mean I couldn’t be.

I only lasted for two tap classes. I quit, not so much because I was embarrassed, but more because I felt bad for holding the rest of the class back. While they were tip tap hopping around the room, I was attempting to tell my feet how to shuffle ball change. My feet didn’t really listen to me. But that didn’t stop me from practicing. Even after I quit the class I tried to master that first across the floor combination–toe, scuff, heel, toe, heel, ball change. I’d be sitting at school scuffing and shuffling my feet under my desk. I’m sure people thought I was crazy.

My least favorite part of class was after the warm up and before the routine portion where we did some kind of across the floor combination to work on basic skill. Everyone would line up and take turns doing the combo from one side of the room to the other. Sometimes we were in twos or threes but often enough we would go one at a time. I hated everyone looking at me cross the floor and mess up the steps. I was mortified at the thought that I’d be the only one in class who didn’t understand how to do something. I watched the more experienced girls with envy as they mastered some of the most difficult combinations with ease.

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^^All that dancing really helped my transform my body.

Between dancing 3 hours a week, practicing in the meantime, and my freshman year gym class at school, my body had completely transformed by the end of the year recital. I lost that extra puberty weight that came in part from eating too much Cheez-Whiz and Sprite during my stay in England and developed coordination and flexibility that I’d never had before.

The following year I once again stepped it up a notch. In addition to hiphop, jazz, and musical theater, I joined ballet. Although I learned my lesson from the year before and even though I was old enough to be in senior ballet, I decided to hang out with the middle schoolers in junior ballet to not embarrass myself too much. I even started working at the dance studio selling shoes, answering phones and assistant teaching in 3 year old ballet and tap classes (and by assistant teaching I mean preventing kids from hitting each other and taking them to the bathroom).

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Over the years I continued to get better, although I was never great. Somehow dance became my life even though at first glance my abilities were nothing to write home about. I loved the way it felt to move my body in a way that fit to music and told a story. I could feel the music moving through me and it was beautiful to me, even if it didn’t look that way to anyone else. It was a way for me to let out inner feelings that I didn’t know I had and wasn’t able to articulate with words.

[Read more…]

Today


Today, I dragged my 10 month pregnant self out into the sunshine with my 22 month old daughter and pushed her in the swing. I ignored the pains in my back and hips as I pulled myself off the picnic blanket to help her onto the trampoline and again 5 minutes later to help her down. I let the sun warm my already overheated body as I gulped down ice water and cheered for my daughter who went down the slide head first. I maneuvered my oversized self back inside to quickly retrieve ‘snuggle bear’ and again when she needed juice.

Today I awkwardly leaned my pregnant belly over the side of the bathtub and retrieved toys that had floated too far away while Evelyn played. I encouraged her to “Swim. Swim. Swim.” And didn’t protest when she wanted to splash. I did,however, discourage her from drinking the bath water.

Today I helped my almost two year old decorate her ‘rocket ship’ with Hello Kitty stickers. I sat on the floor in her bedroom, periodically changing positions to keep from getting too sore and pried her chosen sticker from the sheet. I held her hand as she climbed in and out and back in again. I spent 5 minutes trying to stand up when she wanted to go into the living room while she ran back and forth waiting for me to follow.

Today, I cradled my toddler in the rocking chair while she clutched her “bee” and her juice after she requested, “Rock you?”  I watched her eyes droop and pop back open, fighting off sleep. I snuggled my little angel on my chest, her body bent around my large pregnant belly and replied, “Hi baby,” to her sleepy, “Hi Mom.” I relished in every second that she let me hold her, remembering when I used to nurse her to sleep in this very chair. Before she let sleep overcome her, I laid her in her big girl bed and sang to her while I watched her eyes finally close and her body relax.

Today I am still pregnant at 40 weeks and 4 days, but I don’t mind. Because today I let my daughter be an only child for one more day. And today that’s exactly what we both needed.