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!

 

 

 

 

{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?

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.

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{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.

0 4 years later

^^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.

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{That one time} My dad watched me set my arm on fire

I always looked up to my brother. He was the cool older guy with hot friends who was going to be a rock star. I took most of what he did and said as gospel. As a young teenager, I wanted him to think I was cool and I was prepared to do just about anything to earn that title.

You may remember the time my brother convinced me to get into a dryer and then promptly turned it on. You might think that I would have learned as child not to trust my brother’s suggestions. Ha. If only.

In this fun story, he wasn’t even there to see the outcome of his slyly incepted idea, but my dad was.

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We just finished an excellent week at church summer camp (some may recognize it as EFY) and John and I were sharing our experiences on the car ride home. Being in different age groups, we didn’t see much of each other but I was sure to tell everyone I met that my brother was the lead guitarist in the band that played at the talent show. (They weren’t quite as impressed as I had hoped.)

Our conversation turned to Wednesday pizza night. My story about the girl who shoved 13 Starbursts in her mouth wasn’t nearly as compelling as what John had to say, so I let him talk.

“Yeah, this one dude was showing us how you can set yourself on fire and it doesn’t even burn you.”

“What are you talking about? You can’t do that,” I argued, listening even more intently.

“Yes you can! I watched him do it, it was awesome! Someone drew a smiley face on his chest with hairspray and then he lit it on fire. Only the smiley face lit up and then he put out the fire with his arm before it could actually start burning him. But it reeked! The whole dorm smelled like burnt hair.

“How did it not burn him?” The wheels in my head had already started turning.

“It only burned through the hairspray. He put it out before it could get to his skin.”

We didn’t talk much more about it but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. Weeks went by and I started school as a sophomore. Every so often I would remember what John had said about the burning hairspray. Once or twice, I even picked up the hairspray bottle and challenged it to a staring contest but I always set it back on the shelf before being brave enough to get the lighter.

One afternoon I was riding the bus home from school and witnessed some genius in the backseat nearly set his shirt on fire while playing with a lighter. A girl sitting across the aisle called him a playful string of slightly profane names, as only a high schooler could, and I, in a state of boredom, chimed in with my hairspray/fire anecdote.

“That would never work, you’d have burns after that,” replied the girl, undoubtedly annoyed that I was encroaching on her chance to be the future ‘Mrs. Shirt-Fire.’

“Yeah huh,” was my clever retort, “my brother saw somebody do it. On his chest!”

“Whatever. Have you ever done it?”

The question took me by surprise. I hadn’t done it. I sure had thought about it though. And for the rest of the ride home, I couldn’t get it out of my head.

By the time the bus made it to my stop I had developed a plan: I would go in the front door and set my backpack down in the entryway of our split-level home. I wasn’t even going to go down into my room in the event that the break in focus would make me lose my nerve. Then I’d head straight up the stairs, to the kitchen, grab the lighter and make a beeline for my parent’s bathroom where I’d use my mom’s hairspray and set my arm on fire. Then, before the fire had a chance to burn my skin, I would use my other hand to wipe out the flame. I played it out over and over again.

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My Misplaced Love Story

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Christopher and I were married 5 years ago today. It has been a crazy, wild, wonderful, imperfect ride. I’ll share with you some wisdom I’ve gained along the way: No marriage is perfect. It’s hard and it’s messy and there are rough patches. But at the same time it can be wonderful and beautiful and your own personal fairy tale. You just have to work for it.

I hope my story will touch your heart and remind you what is worth working for and to never forget what matters most.

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My love story started on the back of a motorcycle with my arms wrapped tightly around the future I didn’t know was coming. I’d managed to find the dream that consumed my high school fantasies of the guy who could put a check mark in every box on my list. We stole kisses on campus in between classes and held hands on cold nights waiting for the meteor shower that never came. Our fingers intertwined with a country between us through letters stuffed full of promises of love. I fell hard and fast but he caught me with a diamond ring and a vow to explore the world together.

Our cheeks ached from the grins our faces couldn’t contain when we whispered, “Yes” and became a part of each other. We were giddy at a world of possibility; we were anxious to dip our toes into the adventures that awaited.

We moved and traveled and discovered ourselves and each other. We couldn’t sit still; perpetual wanderers. That is, until we had a daughter who wouldn’t stop moving. Then all we wanted was one moment of stillness. She made our entire lives more exciting and more complicated. She filled us with more love than we knew could ever exist. She gave us the reason and purpose we didn’t know we were looking for. She was the perfect addition to our perfect love story.

But then, somehow, without any warning at all, I misplaced it.

Like a book set idly on a shelf, hidden in plain view, it slowly covered with dust and waited alone, lost, forgotten.

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A Toddler’s Trip to Target

Finally, Mom is getting me out of this dumb car seat. I hate this thing. Oh wait, is that a soggy cookie in there? Wait I wanted that. Wait Mom! Oo a rock! Stop Mom, stop walking, I want that rock.

“Rock. Rock. Rock.”

“Maybe we’ll get a rock on our way back out to the car. It’s cold, let’s get inside.”

I’m not cold. Mom’s crazy. I see a car. And another rock. And another car! Oh that’s a cart! I wanna ride in the cart. I better get to ride in that cart. Why are we walking past the carts? Does Mom not know that we need that cart immediately?! That one. I want THAT CART!

“Cart. Cart. Cart. Cart. Cart. CART!”

“Yes Evelyn, we’re getting a cart…should we get some popcorn?”

Popcorn?! Did she say POPCORN?! I need popcorn. I want the popcorn. I have to have the popcorn now. She said popcorn, I heard her, where is the popcorn? Why are we waiting? I want the popcorn. Oo that is a big bag of popcorn and I’m going to eat the whole thing by myself cause it’s mine. Popcorn.

“Copcorn? Nummy.”

I want to touch EVERYTHING but I’m stuck in this cart. Why did Mom put me in a cart?! I hate this cart! Oh necklace! So cute. I need to feel it. I should probably taste it too for good measure but I just can’t quite reach it. I really wish I could wipe some of my snot on it too. I need to suck on it. Mom keeps pushing me back into this dumb seat in the cart. I MUST BE FREE!!

Oo a necklace for my arm and Mom is letting me wear it. I love it! It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in the whole world and I look so cute! I need more of them. I need to wear all of them! No way..Mom is giving me another one to wear! Mm I like these arm necklaces. I should always have these. These are my life.

THAT HEADBAND HAS FLOWERS!

Mmm nom nom nom popcorn.

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I have spent my whole life in this cart I need to get out! Maybe if I ask super nicely Mom will let me out.

“Push? Push? Push?”

“You want to help me push the cart?”

“Yeah”

“Okaay…”

FREEDOM! I did promise to push the cart though so I better do that. This handle is perfect. I can even run. Look Mom, I’m running! Oh, Mom is still pushing. Well that’s not okay. I don’t need help. I can do this all by myself. I’ll just shove her legs out of the way and then I can…Is that a hat?

That hat is fabulous! I need that hat on immediately. The pink, no the purple hat. It’s not staying on my head, oh Mom is helping. Good. Oo and glasses, This look will not be complete without these glasses. I look so cute right now. Wait, Mom is taking the hat. Mom, that’s my hat, give it back! You have to give it back, that’s my hat. And my glasses, not my glasses! Those are MY GLASSES!! AHHHH!

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Oh a new hat. This hat is much more comfortable. And my heart glasses! I love my heart glasses! I’m the best looking person here. Time to go show off to my adoring fans. I’m gonna push this cart for Mom. She doesn’t do it very well. I push way faster than her.

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One Sentence a Day

In November 2013 I was perusing a cute boutique-type store in the mall, in search of a cute clutch for my best friend’s wedding, when I came across this book:

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A sentence a day. What an interesting idea. In my opinion it cost too much for a fairly simple notebook, so I took a picture so I wouldn’t forget the idea and moved on with my life.

(And never actually found that clutch.)

At my friend’s rehearsal dinner, I was talking to her mom about being the mom of a baby and how busy it is. She told me that she had a planner (or maybe it was a calendar, I can’t remember) that she would use to write something cute the kids did that day. She would just use a few keywords like, “scared of water hose in the dark” and that was enough to help her remember the story that went along with it.

We talked about how little time there is when being a mother of a young thing and how you want to remember every little moment but by the end of the day you’re way to tired to keep up with a journal. Hence her planner.

That reminded me of the sentence a day book. When I had originally seen it, I was thinking of writing a sentence a day in a creative writing stand point, which would still be fantastic. But what if I kept a journal that was just a sentence a day. How hard could that be?

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So when January 1, 2014 rolled around, I found an empty journal in one of my bookshelves and wrote a sentence to sum up the day. Just one.

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Grocery shopping with a baby: A narrative

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Okay, Evelyn is buckled up in the cart with no big complaints, so far, so good. Now to head into the store. What’s first on my list…uhh..new toothbrushes. Let’s see, this one’s too much money, not cute, no tongue scrubber, but I don’t ever use the tongue scrubber so why does that really matter, I don’t know it just does. Am I talking out loud? Stop talking out loud, you’re in public. 

And Evelyn is crying. Here chew on this toothbrush package. Bingo! I’m so good at this. Okay grab some body wash and it’s over to grocery land we go. Was that my toothbrush on the ground? Yes, yes it was. Okay if Evelyn throws it down again she’s not getting it back. I mean after this time. Okay this is really the last time I’m picking it up. Fine I’ll just put it in the cart. And she’s screaming now. Do I really need food? Yes the fridge is empty. 

“Ha ha Silly baby, shh, you’re okay”

That’s not working. People are starting to look. Whatever, I’ll just go really fast. I don’t think I have that many things on my list. Oh, right, I brought toys! Here baby have this little book. Score! Yeah I’m totes pro at this. Okay now yogurt. Do I buy the yogurt with Hello Kitty on it or just the regular kind? Well it’s not like she’ll care that Hello Kitty is on it but it might taste better. Hello Kitty makes everything taste better. Does one have more sugar? Crap I’m talking out loud again. Be quiet! Compare ingredients quickly while child is calm and we’re going with Yoplait, cheaper per ounce. 

Man I should have thought of giving her that book earlier, that was golden. Now for Cheerios. Don’t they have a smaller box? Why in the world is cereal so expensive? Maybe if I just stare in this same spot long enough the item I want will magically appear before my eyes. Alright, Jocelyn keep moving. We’re going with alpha bits…it will be educational or something. 

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