Wednesday, February 20, 2013


WOW! I've been working on this for weeks. I'm sorry that it has taken so long for me to post it. Life has just been crazy with the kids the last few weeks between sickness, surgery, Andy's birthday, Valentine's Day, etc. In the midst of this I've discovered a stress fracture in my left leg and come down with a sinus infection...both of which should make my half marathon this Sunday very interesting! My goal is to have fun and just finish due to all that has happened. I can't believe it's time to go back and do it all over again. I'm beyond excited to run with my sisters and some dear friends from Berry. It will be quite a memorable weekend. I plan to savor every moment.

Finally! A recap on our first half marathon. Due to Andy's job he couldn't be gone for very long and as it is he had to work while we were there because tax season was about to start. We flew out Thursday night and used Disney's Magical Express to pick us up and transport us to our resort. For this trip I wanted to try one of Disney's Vacation Club resorts and so we rented points. We ended up at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa and it was AMAZING! Absolutely beautiful and quite peaceful...a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the parks. Friday morning we had breakfast down at the Artist's Pallet and then Andy had to work. I relaxed out on our balcony and read some before heading to the parks. I had to take some photos for my dad at one of the resorts and then hopped the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom. Andy met me for lunch at Tony's and then we headed to the race expo to pick up our gear.

Wow! The Race Expo was HUGE, MASSIVE, and CRAZY! I knew it would be big but I don't think I really understood how big it would be. Then again I didn't realize how many people I would be running with either. 25,000 runners for the half marathon and they had another 25,000 for the full marathon the next day. 9,000 runners ran BOTH races for the Goofy Challenge. Quite a difference from the 5,000 runners we ran with for the Expedition Everest Challenge. Anyways, it was crazy. We got our bibs in one building before heading next door to the actual expo to pick up our shirts/goody bags. Due to how chaotic it was we didn't buy much but we did buy The Stick to use before/after the race. Oh my goodness! Why we didn't have one of these things till now is beyond me but it makes a HUGE difference on your muscles. (Especially after long runs.) With our loot in tow we headed back to the resort so Andy could do some more work. I worked on laying out our race gear for the morning and making sure everything was good to go. Due to unseasonable temps they had posted at the Expo for people to plan accordingly, make sure they were properly hydrated, and to not try for a crazy fast time. With that in mind I opted to run in a tank and shorts...I was very pleased with this decision the next day as I was racing. Later, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for a lite dinner and to ride a few rides before calling it a night. We went to bed early and were up at 3AM to get ready. Shuttles start running at 3 with the last shuttle running at 4. We were in line and ready to go by 3:30. The shuttle takes you from your resort to Epcot at the drop off point. From there you have bag drop off, porta potties, First Aid, etc. and once you are ready you follow the crowd to the corrals. It actually takes about 15 minutes from this point to get to the actual corrals. You just go with the flow and follow the masses. By the time we made it to the corrals we had just a few minutes to stretch before the start of the race. The first wave went at 5:30ish and then every few minutes they sent the next wave of runners. One of the things I love about Disney races is that with each wave of runners they shoot off fireworks. Having fireworks to start off each wave makes everyone excited and keeps the energy up. When my wave went I turned on my playlist, secured my iPod Nano on my Spi Belt and off I went in to the wild, blue yonder. Well, off I went in to the dark with thousands of my closest friends beside me. ;) 

I settled in to an even pace and the first mile passed quickly. Disney marks every mile with special Disney themed mile marker signs and they also mark off 5K, 10K, and 15K while you are running. You can stop and take pictures or just keep going. Disney races are known for their entertainment on their courses and they didn't disappoint! Cheerleading squads, high school bands, and THOUSANDS of people out to encourage people along the way plus all sorts of character meet and greets. It was AH-MAZING. They end up having 9 water stations along the course plus four medic tents. Due to the heat, and being paranoid about getting dehydrated, I ended up drinking at every water/powerade station. The first half of the course moves really quickly because there are so many recognizable points on the course. Once you leave Epcot and head towards the Magic Kingdom you quickly come upon the Parking Toll Booths, which you pass thru, you then pass the Richard Petty Driving Experience and work your way across the Magic Kingdom parking lots headed towards the TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center), once you pass the TTC you head towards the Magic Kingdom by way of the Contemporary, and you end up coming in to the Magic Kingdom from a side/back entrance that puts you on Main Street U.S.A. And can I just say WOW! I teared up when I got to that point in the course because I was overwhelmed by how many people had packed the streets to cheer everyone on. It was insane. I've now run through 3 of the 4 parks in races and Magic Kingdom is hands down the best to run through. (The only park I've not raced through is Hollywood Studios.) 

The first half went really, really fast like I said and I found myself on Main Street in no time. Due to the heat, humidity, and how many fluids I was consuming I decided to stop in the parks to use the bathroom. I ran in and ran out and was quickly back on the course running towards the castle. Running out of the castle was unreal. Looking again down Main Street at the crowds of people cheering was amazing. You then set off trekking across Liberty Square towards Frontierland. Once there you exit near Splash Mountain and begin the trek back to Epcot. At this point you are completely backstage and get to see all sorts of floats/behind the scenes operations before you come around the back of the Grand Floridian. By the time I got to this point in the course the sun was up and the temps were rising, however, the temp dropped around the Grand Floridian briefly and once we got on the open road it jumped again. It was weird. The next several miles were hard just because you are in between parks so there isn't a lot of excitement/anticipation like there is as you pass certain things making your way to MK. At this point I saw a woman running in a full blown Cinderella costume with a hoop skirt and I was quite grateful I was not running in a costume! (She looked really, really hot.) I imagine I'll see a ton of full costumes for the Princess Half. I continued on at my pace and drinking/eating Shot Bloks along the way. The bulk of the course is flat, it's Florida after all, and nothing like running around my neighborhood which is all hills. However, the last bit of the course is the most 'hilly' section but I would not call it 'hilly' because it's nothing like running around here. Not sure if that makes sense. Anyways, at mile 11 it hit me that I had a whopping two miles left and Epcot was within sight! Hallelujah! Everything about running in Epcot is just narrow. Super, super narrow. You enter from the side by the Seas with Nemo and Friends. You then run towards the World Showcase and back out towards Spaceship Earth. At this point there are people cheering and going crazy telling you that you are almost finished. You exit the park knowing the finish line is literally just around the bend. I came around the bend and teared up again...there was a massive grandstand at the finish line with people going crazy cheering for the finishers. I crossed the finish line with my arms raised over my head in jubilation. I had done it. I had run 13.1 miles and finished. Unreal. When I began running a year ago my goal was to accomplish something I never thought I could do. I was overwhelmed that I had done it. I was overwhelmed by God's faithfulness. This last year had been high and low in so many, many points and the entire time I was running I kept coming back to the thought that in all of that God had been faithful. Faithful to provide. Faithful to carry my burdens. Faithful in sickness. Extremely faithful in all things. At this point I made my way picking up water and powerade, which I quickly downed a bottle easily, and snagged my shiny new piece of hardware. I then picked up my runners box that had all sorts of food items in it and made my way to bag check. By now Andy and I are calling each other trying to locate one another and we quickly start chattering away about the whole experience. After locating Andy I called my Dad to tell him that we had made it and crossed the finish line. We ate, drank, stretched, and picked up some race gear for Andy. And then we made our way to the buses for our resort. We had to wait a bit because there was quite a line but all things considered it moved. We finally got on a bus and were on our way back to the resort. 

In all that we had read leading up to the race we had read not to nap afterwards. That your body actually does better if you stay up and going all day. So, that's what we did. We got back, ate some more, Andy showered while I stretched some more, and once I was showered we set out with our medals in hand towards Epcot for the afternoon. Walking in that afternoon we were able to demo the new entry system and it's going to be really neat when Disney gets it all finished. We were curious to talk to the Cast Members about how they plan to link the new system with Annual Passes and they said that they are working hard on it. I hope that it is jut as great for people that hold annual passes. Time will tell. Anyways, we spent the day roaming around Epcot and leisurely strolling around. We rode the re-vamped Test Track and it was awesome. We also found a real Peter Pan hat for AG in the United Kingdom of the World Showcase. (He was beside himself when we gave it to him.) Later that evening we took the monorail across to the Magic Kingdom for dinner. I was able to snag a reservation at the highly coveted, brand new restaurant, Be Our Guest. It was simply amazing! I'm so excited that I get to eat there again for the Princess Half Marathon. You feel like you've literally walked right in to the movie, Beauty and the Beast. And can I just say how amazing it was to have on our race shirts and medals and have people congratulate us on race. Strangers, cast members, fellow runners, etc. It was awesome. After dinner we rode some rides and did some shopping for the kids before heading out for the night. It was an unbelievably short trip but simply amazing! The next morning we relaxed before checking out and catching the Magical Express back to the airport. We went early so that Andy could watch half of the Falcons playoff game before we took off. 

It was a memorable weekend in so many ways. I am grateful that Andy and I got to do it together. It most definitely will not be our last half marathon together. We can both see this as something we'll do often in the years to come. 

Morning at our resort...I enjoyed sitting out here and reading each day.
The splash pad...I took this picture because it reminded me of the kids. I know we'll have to come back to this resort because they would love all of the amenities.
Construction work at the front of the Magic Kingdom.
I took this the day before the was finally starting to sink in that I was actually going to be running down Main Street in less than 24 hours.
Lunch at Tony's.

Race Expo...Packet Pick-up...the real chaos was next door in the actual exhibition. Crazy and insane.
Evening on the Seven Seas Lagoon. 
A ride on Dumbo before heading to bed and hoping we make it across the finish line. 

We did it! Post race walk around Epcot.

Trying out the newly redesigned Test Track.

Who doesn't love boating on the high seas in Norway?!?

I love the United Kingdom area.

Off to Magic Kingdom and checking on the progress of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Can't wait to ride this when they finish it. 

Exploring around New Fantasyland before dinner with the Beast at Be Our Guest.

Caught a few minutes of our favorite part of The Main Street Electrical Parade.

WISHES! Over New Fantasyland. 
A perfect way to end the night and the trip. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013


...slowly, ever so slowly, I am getting caught back up. I am in the process of finishing up a looooooong runDisney post about the half full of pictures and our experience. It's over half way done and I should be able to finish it up in the next few days. (I hope!)

We spent the weekend here and it was nice. Friday we stayed home due to AG being contagious and I put the kids to bed. Andy went up the street to our friend Wilson's birthday party and I enjoyed watching The Young Victoria in a quiet house. Saturday we woke up to dreary weather. I ran to the grocery store to stock up on stuff that was on sale/use coupons. After that we loaded the kids in the car and headed north to Calhoun. We went to the outlets to look for a few things and to specifically buy pjs for the kids. I always buy their pjs at the Carters outlet at the end of the season for next year. The main reason is the cost it's much, much cheaper to go this route. And it's nice to have them stocked so when our crazy GA weather decides to get cold I already have them. I saved $190 dollars by buying pjs ahead of time. Nice chunk of change...I was proud of myself. AG ended up with 4 pairs of fleece footed pjs and Avi-Kate ended up with 5 pairs of fleece footed pjs. Next fall all I will add is their Chritsmas pjs and they should be set. It was somewhat sad buying them this time because this is the last year AG will fit their footed pjs. Next year I'll have to buy him 'big boy' pjs and that was somewhat surreal. I can't believe how big he is and how much he's changed over this last year. (Even just since he started school!)

Today we went to church this morning and then came home for lunch. After that I headed to Berry for a 4 mile could have been longer but due to the Super Bowl Party at church I needed to get home to get cleaned up. We headed back up to the church for a nice low key party and I brought the kids home to put them to bed while Andy stayed to finish the game.

There you have it low key weekend and hopefully a good week. I'm hoping to tackle some projects around the house and get some blogging done. Need to update things like my background and my blog roll. (If you want your blogged to be linked leave me a comment and I'll add you!) We also have Avi-Kate's ear surgery on Wednesday and we are also having students over that night for Family Dinner. (Which I am really looking forward to since it has been forever since we've had everyone around the family table.) Next week is Andy's 30th birthday! He's still deciding on what he wants to do to celebrate this year. We are still talking about several possibilities...I'll be glad when he finally settles on something. :) I hope everyone had a good weekend and I'll update again, soon.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Over. And over. And over to myself.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.   ~Isaiah 41:13

Over the course of this last month I have repeatedly come back to this verse...daily. And I continue to say it over and over to myself. This has been quite a roller coaster start to the year. We closed out 2012 with both kids being sick and not being able to go to Orlando to see the Dawgs play. (When your kids are sick they take priority over pretty much everything else.) Then a few days in to the new year a friend of mine from college committed suicide and it rocked the close knit community that is Berry to it's core. I'm still processing what happened and it's effects. Two days after the funeral Andy and I headed to Disney to run our first half...what a mountain top experience that was. We came home and celebrated AG's fourth birthday. Earlier this week we had horrible storms and a tornado touched down about 15/20 minutes from our house. I spent the morning locked in the bathroom with Avi-Kate and Samson because Andy was at work and AG was at school. That was an interesting experience to have bad weather and my child not with me. We ended the month by seeing an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist in Atlanta due to how sick both kids have been. In the midst of all of this have been friends in need of their own encouragement because of the struggles in their own lives. Again, it's been a roller coaster start to the year. Yet, in all of this, I have taken a great amount of comfort in saying, 

"For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."

Over. And over. And over to myself. And occasionally to those around me. Those words are like a balm, in all situations, to my heart and mind. I feel like over the last few years that certain verses/songs/quotes become anthems for a season in our life because they are relevant daily. Last year, almost daily, I would say aloud:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

And this year, so far, has been all about Isaiah 41:13. 

Yesterday, I went to the ENT with the kids with a rough idea of what I thought they would say...that AG needed to have his tonsils out and that while Avi-Kate's ears were bad we could hold off on tubes a little longer. Instead I found out the following:

Avi-Kate's ears are horrible. In fact, they are still infected from Christmas and they immediately wrote me a prescription for a new antibiotics. She's having surgery immediately on her in next Wednesday morning she's having surgery. While they are at it they are also going to clip her tongue because she is tongue tied. I have been concerned about this for about nine months now and have asked the pediatrician but she said it was minor. In addition to being tongue tied she is also upper lip tied and we are going to have to seek advice from the dentist and orthodontist on how to proceed. They asked me yesterday if I was able to nurse her and I told them I made it four months before completely switching to formula. The nurse practitioner told me I deserved a gold medal for making it that far. Both of these issues explain why it took her on average an hour and a half to nurse. With all of this comes speech issues...being an early childhood education major in college I have experience with children and developing their speech. Over the course of the last six months I began to have this inner dialoge in my head about her speech. Should I be concerned? Should I not be concerned? Am I being overly worried because of my background? Etc. They asked me yesterday how her hearing was and without batting an eye I said fine. Surely I would notice if she was having hearing issues, right? They asked to do a hearing screening just to see where she was at despite the fact that her ears were infected. What a humbling experience to sit in a special room with your child on your lap and watch them not be able to hear. I began saying Isaiah 41:13 in my head as questions began to swirl and I willed back tears from forming. Avi-Kate has hearing loss and at this point they believe that it correlates with how infected her ears are. The hope is that by doing surgery immediately they can clear up her ears and her hearing will return. If not, we'll cross that bridge later. The combination of the hearing loss and being tongue tied explains why her speech hasn't developed the way it should. 

And then there was AG. His tonsils are huge and he snores like an old man at the tender age of four. They told me that they do indeed need to come out. What I wasn't prepared for was that the doctor wants to do the surgery at hospital so that he can keep AG overnight. (We are going to have to call this week to talk with our insurance to see what they will/will not pay for...depending on what they say we may have to have it done as outpatient.) While they were checking out his tonsils the doctor asked if they could swab AG for a strep test. Sure enough, it came back positive. They immediately wrote me a prescription for him. So the little man had a sick day at home with Mommy and Avi-Kate today. 

That's a lot. When I called Andy to tell him how it went he responded with something along the lines of, "that's a lot more information than I was expecting you to tell me." Yes. It was a lot of information to take in by yourself while juggling two small kids.

Big picture? These things while big at this moment are in fact small in the grand scheme of things. And for that I am grateful. Yesterday was hard because it was a lot to process at once by myself. While driving home I kept telling myself that God will help us. He does help us, daily. I don't know what the future holds but I take great comfort in knowing that HE knows and HE will help us. Great, great, great comfort.  

In major withdrawals...

...of the Classic City. Of seeing everyone decked in red and black. Of being between the hedges. Of listening to the Redcoat Marching Band. Of yelling, "Go Dawgs!" and "Hunker Down one more time!" Of having a reason to dress up on a frequent basis. (Let's face it as a mom of small kids making sure I look put together is not always a daily priority...some days I am doing good to shower and have dinner on the table.) Of walking and driving around Athens. Of night games under the lights and between the hedges. Of silver britches. I could go on and on. I realize that football season just ended a few weeks ago but I am already looking forward to next season. With small kids, work, commitments, etc. it is very easy to get wrapped up in life and not have time to go on dates. Saturdays in Athens have become something I look forward to not just because I love college football and the Dawgs but because I love having built-in dates with Andy. We've talked about adding seats to our season ticket collection so that we can bring the kids...and while I look forward to family weekends in Athens I am soaking up the kids being little and just having two season tickets.

Athens, we'll see you September 7th. Till then we'll be counting down the days...