Disneyland for two

IMG_9702 copyJPGI have been to Disneyland and Disney World my fair share of times. They are my second home. My mom grew up in California so we went there for a long time until we moved to Georgia and Disney World was a short 10 hour drive away. Then I got an internship at Disney World right after Chris and I got married. The Disney parks hold a special place in my heart and are full of fun memories.

However, this past trip was unlike any I’ve taken, in the very best way. My Aunt Darla and I have been close pretty much my whole life. She’s always treated me like a friend first and a niece never. I even lived with her for a year during my most very awkward of phases. Nonetheless, and despite our cross country distance, we’ve remained close friends. That made this trip to Disneyland incredible!

The occasion, of course, was the Tinkerbell half marathon. But we decided to take advantage of being there and spend a few days in the park. With her military discount we scored 3-day park hopper passes for $150!! At first we were just going to do one day, but a one day ticket is $105+tax. So for $45 extra dollars we could add two more days and a park hopper. It was a no brainer really.

It was about a 9 hour drive from Utah to Anaheim but the drive really wasn’t bad. We left at like 6am and took 2 hour turns so neither of us got too bored with driving.

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^^Lunch on the road at Wienerscnitzel

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Darla was all too happy to point out that there had been shift in our relationship. Where I was once the cool, young, hip teenager, I was now the mother of toddlers and was not in-the-know on anything cool or hip. She, however, as the mother of 2 teenage girls was. As evidenced by the fact that she had to teach me how to use snapchat. #imsoold

We had a ridiculously fun time. We let ourselves enjoy sitting down for a nice meal (Scroll down for all my favorite places we ate!) instead of feeling stressed to rush and ride everything. We sat and chatted (and were interrupted by Oswald). We moseyed around and rode what we wanted, when we wanted, without having to make a whole gaggle of people happy. We even took a break for like an hour and bought some souvenirs from Sephora in Downtown Disney. That would have never happened if my husband was with us.

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My favorite part of the trip was probably Sunday night. We were both so silly slap-happy after having been awake for so many hours. We were hobbling around with sore knees and giggling at everything. It was fun that Darla brought herself down to my immaturity level for a night.

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On Monday, we had planned to go to Disneyland in the morning and leave by noon for the 10 hour drive back. Well, we were both so tired that we didn’t even end up getting to the park until noon. And we didn’t really care. There was no one to tell us one way or the other.

We started at Matterhorn which was an annoyingly long line but we both really wanted to ride it. We got up to the part of the queue where it was weaving back and forth. We were close to entrance of the ride but there were still probably 30 people ahead of us. But the guy running the ride saw us, pulled us out of line and let us walk right on. I guess were were looking pretty fly.

We got through most of the ride before it stopped. Shut down. We were sitting there for a while but it was actually really peaceful. We were in the sun, right next to a waterfall. Darla and I were just playing on our phones. By the time they got us off the ride, they gave us a fastpass for the ride of our choosing (except Hyperspace Mountain) for our trouble. #worthit.

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We headed over to Star Tours since we hadn’t been on that one yet. The fastpass line was stupid long which got us both annoyed because we had limited time in the park. But when it got to the point to give up our magical fastpass ticket the guy looked at us, and then gave it back. “I didn’t do that,” he said. We must have been lookin’ super fly!

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So we walked right onto Indiana Jones. For the third time this trip. Then a quick corndog lunch (yum!) and we rushed right over to California Adventure since we still hadn’t ridden Tower of Terror. But I checked the wait time on my app as we walked in and noticed that California Screamin was a 10 minute wait. So instead, we rode that twice, wrapped it up with The Little Mermaid, grabbed some ice cream from Ghiradelli and headed home.

By this time it was about 5pm. I drove us out of the city and as we were reaching our 2 hour switch point we spotted an outlet mall. Something you should know…Darla and I are both avid shoppers. (I blame her for my addiction). So we spent like 30 min to an hour in Old Navy and then got back on the road.

Darla drove for almost two hours and I took us the rest of the way home so she could sleep. But the only way I could manage that was by chugging two Rockstar energy drinks back to back. By the time we did get home at 5am, I had a hard time falling asleep cause I was still a little buzzed on caffeine.

It was the most amazing weekend. Neither of us wanted to leave but were still excited to see our families. It was so wonderful, we plan to make a habit of this whole Disney running thing. So stay tuned for more Disney runs! I’m thinking the next one will be Feb 2017.

Favorite Places to Eat at Disneyland and California Adventure:

Jazz Kitchen

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Located in Downtown Disney, the Jazz kitchen offers cajun-creole food. It’s on the pricier side but if you have the money to spend, it’s well worth it. I just wish I had saved more room for dessert because we saw and smelled them making Bananas Foster at the table next to us and it looked mouth wateringly delicious.

Flo’s Cafe

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Flo’s is in the heart of Radiator Springs at California adventure and is the perfect stop for breakfast after getting your fast pass for Radiator Springs Racers (you have to do that first because they run out). The brioche french toast is incredible and it is a big piece. But if you’re anything like me, you might need something savory in addition to a sweet piece of french toast. If you are there with another person, one of you order the french toast, and the other person order the breakfast platter with eggs, hashbrowns, a biscuit and bacon and then split it! It’s more than enough food for two people.

Cozy Cone Motel

I wish I had been hungrier when we walked through the Cozy Cone Motel but I just wanted a a quick snack and popcorn hit the spot perfectly. I opted for regular butter, but the offer all kinds of flavored popcorn if you’re feeling adventurous. The other cones have sweet and savory snacks and some that could even serve as a meal. You can read more on this post (scroll about halfway down).

Little Red Wagon

When I did research for our last trip to Disneyland I read about these corndogs and wanted one SO BAD. But it just never happened. So for this trip I was determined to get one! This was my first meal after our half marathon and it hit the spot perfectly. These are unlike any corndogs you’ve had. They’re huge and hand dipped and delightful. They are located right at the end of Main Street and corndogs are the only thing they serve (with chips and a drink if you want). But everyone seems to know how amazing these corndogs are and the line is always crazy long. So if you’re looking to save some time and have a place to sit, head on over to the next restaurant, The Stage Door Cafe.

Stage Door Cafe

Located in Frontierland at Disneyland, this cafe serves the very same hand-dipped corndogs you can get at Little Red Wagon, without the long wait and with other food options if you’re dining with people who may not be in the mood for a corndog (is there such a person?!)

River Belle Terrace

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Also located in Frontierland with a great view of the Mark Twain Riverboat, River Belle Terrace is a nice sit down restaurant to rest your tired feet for dinner after a long day at the park. Or if you ran a half marathon 20 hours prior. I had the ribs which were finger lickin’ good. The price is worth it for the food. We didn’t make a reservation but we didn’t have to wait long for a table.

Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill

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Located at the Pacific Wharf in California Adventure. Yummy yummy Mexican food and the price is right! My aunt and I both got a burrito plate that came with beans and rice and was plenty to fill our bellies. Plus the time of day we were there wasn’t too crowded so we could pleasantly chat under the shade without distraction.

Ghiradelli’s

And right down the way from the Mexican Grill is Ghiradelli’s! Head over for a delicious ice cream dessert. I’d highly recommend splitting it with a friend though. Neither of us could finish our Sundays. And every time you enter the store you get a free chocolate. We happened to go in three times and decided not to get ice cream until the 4th time. But we got three free chocolates (say that 10 times fast).

 

Disneyland with a Toddler

Remember back when I went to Disney World when Evelyn was a baby and I said, “Taking babies to Disney World sucks, don’t do it”? Well…Oops, I did it again. And boy did I learn a lot.

This time we went to Disneyland instead of Disney World, so smaller area to cover, less overwhelming right? Wrong. The toddler was a lot more work than the baby on this vacation.

Evelyn is almost 3 and Remington is 9 months. Why was she harder? She doesn’t take naps in the stroller. She wants to run around. She can voice her opinions. Rem will just sleep. Which is awesome.

We bought a three day ticket, non park hopper. My plan of attack was to get to Disneyland when it opens to beat the bulk of the crowd and it worked really well. The first day we were there from about 8:30am to 8pm. Both kids were SO ready for bed by the time we made it back to our hotel. However, in trying to replicate the “get there early” plan for day 2, there was a lot of crying and whining and general tantrums. We had to actually wake Evelyn up to go to the park and she was really enjoying her sleep. We left the park early on day 2, around 4 pm and figured day 3 would be even shorter and more low key. I think we spent a grand total of 3 hours in the park on day 3. Totally worth the hundreds of dollars we spent on the tickets. And I didn’t even get a corn dog. But I digress.

In retrospect, these are my tips for planning a Disney trip with a toddler:

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Plan Ahead!

I genuinely enjoy planning Disney trips. I like to pick out the restaurants I want to go to and figure out where we’ll need fastpasses and decide what part of the park we’ll start at and where we’ll end up. This is really helpful to make the most of your time there. It will keep you from going back and forth all over the park all day. A little research on the best restaurants in each area of the park will help you decide where to eat whenever hunger hits you.

If there are characters your kids want to meet, it’s definitely easiest when you are one of the first in line and you don’t have to wait forever. Look up the schedules online and plan around that.

Buy Souvenirs Beforehand

A couple of weeks before our trip, I hit up Target, Walmart and even Dollar Tree, to stock up on souvenirs for the trip. It worked out so perfectly! They were great bribery (Don’t cry, have a toy) I wasn’t sad when they got lost (That Elsa keychain only cost a dollar, so no big deal that you dropped it within seconds of me handing it to you.) And when she did decide to wander through one of the shops and found a stuffed Elsa she just had to have, I coerced her back to the stroller and handed her one from the backpack that I picked up at the Disney Store on sale before the trip.

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We also brought her princess dresses along with us and she had the option of changing outfits whenever she wanted throughout the day. Especially since we could put everything in the stroller and didn’t actually have to carry anything.

Get there Early/Leave Early

One of the best things we did was get to the park around opening. Most people on vacation want to sleep in (believe me, we did too) but by getting there early, we got to grab fast passes for the faster roller coasters for later in the day and hit a bunch of the little kid rides while they still had short lines.

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We were like 5th in line to see Elsa, 2nd in line to meet Aurora, and 2nd in line to meet Minnie Those line went much more smoothly than the 45 minutes we waited to see Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel, or even Mickey (even though the Mickey line is pretty fun).

The only thing we should have done differently is not stayed so late. If we had shorter days, I’m sure the subsequent days wouldn’t have been so bad.

Use Rider Swap

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Oh my goodness, rider swap. Such a magical way to work the system without actually working the system. The idea of rider swap is that for any ride with a height requirement, one parent can wait in line, get a rider swap pass which they can give to the other parent which allows them (and up to 2 guests) to go to the fast pass line.

Now for the best way to use it to your advantage: It’s really best if you have a third adult with you who can help watch the kids, and therefore 3 tickets to use to get fast passes. You really only need one fast pass for each ride since your rider swap pass can get three people into the fast pass line. SO get one fast pass ticket and that person rides alone and gets a rider swap pass. Then, they give the pass to the other two people who head straight through the fast pass line. You can have three fast passes  for three different rides at the same time. Get it? It’s so great! We hardly had to wait it any lines.

It works really well in California adventure where some of the adult rides and kid rides are intertwined. So whoever is watching kids can take them on some rides or to see a character while the other people are on an adult ride. And the best part of rider swap, no expiration time.

Have a Rest Day

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^^ So done right now

Evelyn was so tired on day two, I really wish we had just spent that day hanging around the hotel, watching TV and playing in the pool and then gone back to the park on the third day. It would have given us all time to rest and recoup from walking around the park all day and Evelyn would have gotten some much needed sleep.

Keep the trip short

For a toddler, something like Disneyland is SO overwhelming! It’s like too much to handle all at once. Three days was just too many in the park. Two days would have given us plenty of time to do everything. And a rest day in between would have insured minimal tantrums from sleep deprivation.

Take advantage of Play Grounds

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When you have a toddler stuck in a stroller most of the day, the second you let them out, they are ready to RUN. I think Evelyn’s favorite part of the trip was the adventure trail in California Adventure. It was just a big playground with slides and tunnels and she didn’t have to wait in line for anything. Plus we could let Remi crawl around and get some energy out too.

 

Sidenote: It would also help if you go during a non-peak time. We didn’t really have a choice in our instance, but if you can manage it, it would make for much less lining waiting and much happier kids.

 

Going to Disney any time soon?? What are you doing to plan? What are you excited for?

Been with toddlers? What’s your advice??

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Vacation part 2: Disneyland

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I can’t even tell you how I giddy I was about going to Disneyland. Like seriously giddy. Disneyland and Disney World even more so, are like a second home to me and I love the magic atmosphere of it all. I couldn’t wait to share it with Evelyn. She was only 10 months old on our first trip so all the magic kind of went over her head. But this time at 2 and a half she would be the perfect age to experience the magic in full effect.

As it turns out, Disneyland can still be quite overwhelming for a two and a half year old. If you ask her she’ll tell you all about the scary pirate ride (Pirates of the Caribbean), the scary house ride (the haunted mansion), the scary car ride (Mr Toad’s Wild Ride), if you ask how she liked the Winnie the Pooh or Ariel rides she’ll tell you, “Yeah, but they were a little bit scary.”

But her favorite ride by far was “the horses” AKA The carousel. Yes that’s right, a ride that you can find in most malls, was my daughter’s favorite at Disneyland.

Anywho, these pictures will tell the story of our trip much better than I ever could, Enjoy!

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^^Kisses for Minnie

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^^Showin’ off her shoes

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^^Hanging out in Mickey’s house

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^^Costume change number 1

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^^All the Pooh characters were just enamored by Evelyn. They each walked her from one character to the next and Rabbit just refused to let her go.

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^^She sang Pooh ‘Little Black Raincloud, and he even shared some honey with her.

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^^Costume change #3

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^^So excited to ride the horsies!!

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^^Homemade t shirts

Day 2:

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Vacation Part 1: Arizona

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^^New hair, fresh spray tan, ready for vacay

Mmm Vacation. I was looking forward to this for like a month. So ready for the warmth of Arizona, so ready to just chill and relax and let family play with my babies.

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^^What a good husband!

Our flight left in the afternoon and it was only like an hour so there was really no chance of either kid sleeping. But Chris was an angel and let me sit all by myself in the back of the plane while he took care of BOTH kids. I think it was the most relaxing flight I’ve ever had in my whole life. Seriously magical.

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^^Look how relaxed I am on the flight all by myself!

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^^Babies require a lot of crap

We flew in with Chris’ little sister Caitlin who Evelyn is seriously in love with so that was nice too. The whole reason for the trip was for Chris’ brother’s wedding. So once in town, Caitlin and I headed out to get a gift for the bridal shower that night. We picked something super boring off the registry: sheets, and then something that we thought would make a nice companion gift, lingerie. Obvs.

The funny thing is that since their registry was at Target, everyone who decided to also get the bride lingerie ended up getting her the exact same thing. Dumb Target, only having one bridal worthy type of lingerie. At least that way she can make returns and pick out exactly what she wants.

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The next day I went for a brisk 5 mile run (half marathon here I come) and in return got a massive blister just in time for the wedding on Saturday. So..that was great.

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^^Hugest blister EVER!

I set up a party with all the bridesmaids to do matching Jamberry nails for the wedding so we did that on Friday afternoon. Then Friday evening, the boys went out for a “bachelor party” (dinner and laser tag) and I went out with the bride and a couple of Chris’ sisters  for dinner. It was a lot of fun. We spent the whole time making the bride feel super awkward by talking about sex. But I mean really…what else were we gonna talk about the night before the wedding??

The morning of the wedding, Chris’ stepmom set up a little easter egg hunt for the kids. Evelyn LOVED getting two Easters.

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The wedding was just beautiful. Evelyn loved running around outside the temple while everyone was waiting for the bride and groom to emerge. But she was not about to let the bride steal the show.

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^^Waiting for the bride and groom is hard.

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^^”Why is everyone looking at the bride…Can’t they see I’m right here?”

At one point I lost track of her and saw her little shoes peeking out from behind a pillar. She was playing doctor with Chris’ sister and having surgery done on her knee. Naturally.

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I even managed to hobble around in my heels with my blister becoming more and more painful. Pain is beauty my friend.

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I take too many selfies, true or false? Trick Question! There’s no such thing.

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^^I seriously love this picture. Chris with his baby brother, newly married and ready to take on life.

Evelyn spent the reception shoving cupcakes into her face and dancing like a maniac. She is seriously so hilarious.

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Sunday, we skipped church and went to visit my Grandma and Aunt where Evelyn got yet another Easter surprise. I guess it’s understandable that people want to spoil such a cute little girl. By now she’s a pro at opening gifts.

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^^Great Grammy’s house is the best!

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^^Everyone loves goldfish right

On Monday we grabbed a rental car and made the trek to California for our Disneyland Adventure….

 

To be continued.

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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How to cope with PVD

You’ve just had the most fabulous week ignoring real life and focusing on amusement. You ate decadent food and didn’t stress about exercising. You relaxed and didn’t worry about chores or work. The only time you checked your email was to see your online shopping receipts. But now it’s all come to an end. You are back home with a suitcase full of dirty laundry and an empty fridge.

Immediately you are thrown back into the mundane tasks you left behind and they have piled up because of your absence and suddenly it hits you like a ton of bricks right in the gut:

Post Vacation Depression

Oh, it is real my friend, and it sucks. There was no easing back into things. It was peaceful bliss to boring chores overload in 2.5 or less. So when you wake up in your own bed for the first time in 7 days and feel that cloud of overwhelming despair creep upon you, do not fret. I’m gonna help you through this. And by tomorrow, you’ll feel ready to tackle everything that life throws at you. Fo reals.

PVD

How to Cope with PVD

001 Step one happens before you even go on your trip. When you’re taking your days off of work or whatever else you have to do in preparation for you trip, plan one extra day after you get home for extended vacation. You could also just come back on the weekend and take a weekend day to recoup. If you are a parent of children that will need to be taken places, try to make other arrangements for them so you can guiltlessly relax.

002 Next we’re gonna skip ahead to your trip home. This might be a flight, drive, train ride, etc. You need to mentally prepare yourself for what you’re coming home to. If you left your house in shambles, be prepared for that and don’t freak out. Remember, your vacation isn’t over yet. Remind yourself of that and tell yourself that you will continue to live out of that suitcase for the next day. If you tell yourself now that you don’t need to do your chores, it will be easier when you are actually home.

003 This last step is crucial. Your first morning after your vacation is officially over, roll out of bed whenever you feel like it. And this the important part: DON’T DO ANYTHING ALL DAY LONG. Don’t work out, don’t eat healthy, don’t unpack, don’t clean anything. Just veg out. Read a book, watch endless amounts of TV and only get off the couch to go to the bathroom or answer the door for take-out.

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By day two at home you will most likely feel sick of all the sitting around you were doing the day before and you’ll be ready to conquer the day. Go ahead and let yourself unpack and catch up on laundry. Yes, you can go to the grocery store now but it won’t be awful or miserable. You planned for it and now you feel refreshed and relaxed and super pleased at your 8 day long vacation.

You earned it, girl!

Exploring Philadelphia

This is the third in a series of posts about our 5th anniversary vacation. View the first post on Maryland here, and the second post on Washington DC here.

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Our day trip to Philadelphia was honestly the highlight of my trip. The original plan was to go to New York City for the day but after our exhausting afternoon in DC and the prospect of 6 hours of travel time round trip, Chris wasn’t too crazy on the idea. I was super disappointed at first, but looking back on how great our day was I don’t even mind that it was spent in Philadelphia instead of NYC.

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I did a little research the night before and had a long list of places I wanted to try and see while we were in town. Philadelphia is obviously a really historic city but not being a big history buff myself, I really wanted to do some other ‘fun’ things besides just taking a history class. But Chris took a look at my list with a loud groan. He is the history buff kind of guy and wanted to take advantage of being in such a historic city.

Free Activities

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Much like DC, there was a lot of free stuff to do. We took a quick walk through the Liberty Bell museum, got a pic of the bell and moved along to Independence Hall. I still don’t really get the big significance of the Liberty Bell.

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You have to get tickets for the tour at Independence Hall but they’re free. You just pick them up at the information center across from the Liberty Bell. The tour was actually pretty cool. I liked our tour guide and surprisingly I wasn’t bored even though my attention span and interest level is similar to that of a 15 year old girl.

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^^This is where the magic happened. Washington sat in that chair at the front

The US Mint (where they make money) is right across the street and also free, but we decided to skip out on that one.

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Summer reading list

I love it when Spring slowly warms into Summer. It’s such a nice change after the breeze and rain that comes with Spring. I love to step out into the warmth and be instantly engulfed in a warm blanket of comfort. Not that I don’t love Spring, it’s a great relief after the Winter chill, but there’s something about the feel and smell and look of Summer that reminds me of vacation from school as a kid. It screams freedom.

Read about my perfect Summer day here.

One of my favorite parts of lazy Summer days is basking under the sun, working on my tan and reading a good book. For a book to qualify as a good Summer read, it has to meet some very specific qualifications.

  1. Entertainment. First and foremost it needs to be primarily entertainment. I am not looking for a book to tickle my brain and make me contemplate life. I don’t want any heavy content.That’s what Winter vacation reads are for (don’t ask me why..I don’t make the rules).  I want something light and funny.
  2. Easy Read. It needs to be an easy read. By that I mean, super easy to comprehend. So not only do I need the content to be easy, breezy I need the writing style to be so comprehensible that my attention can wander and I can still understand what’s going on.
  3. Short. I’m not talking short story length, but short enough that I can easily read it before I have to return it to the library. Or even short enough that I can read 2 or 3 books before I need to take them back.

So if these qualifications sound like your type of Summer read, keep scrolling and make your list for books to get this Summer for a perfect relaxing tanning session.

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Between Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson

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Summary- “Nonny Frett understands the meaning of the phrase “in between a rock and a hard place” better than any woman alive. She’s got two mothers, “one deaf-blind and the other four baby steps from flat crazy.” She’s got two men: a husband who’s easing out the back door; and a best friend, who’s laying siege to her heart in her front yard. And she has two families: the Fretts, who stole her and raised her right; and the Crabtrees, who won’t forget how they were done wrong. Now, in Between, Georgia, a feud that began the night Nonny was born is escalating and threatening to expose family secrets. Ironically, it might be just what the town needs…if only Nonny weren’t stuck in between.”

– From Goodreads

This book already hold a special place in my heart because I met the author when I was in high school, her name is also Jocelyn (although spelled differently) and she signed my book, “To the other Jocelyn.” Plus it’s about a state that is very near and dear to my heart.

All that aside it’s a great story that has enough dimension to make it interesting as more than just a romance, but not too much dimension that you have to contemplate every sentence you read and the possible symbolism and meaning behind it.

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