Disney race weekend

The Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side race was our first RunDisney experience, and we really didn’t know what to expect. We decided to err on the side of caution and did not buy park admission tickets, opting instead to lounge by the pool (Lola Gray loves a Disney pool party!) and check out a few Disney restaurants – we revisited the fantastic Hoop De Doo Review, which was as full off rootin’ tootin’ fun as we remembered, and ate a giant banana split at Beaches and Cream. I’m so glad we didn’t try to fit in a park day, because those early mornings were exhausting!

On this visit we stayed at the Art of Animation resort, which has been on Lola’s dream list ever since it opened. My hope is that we will one day work our way through all of the Disney resorts, but we have a long way to go!!

So far we have stayed at only value and moderate level resorts, and I honestly think I prefer the value resorts in many ways. The pools are better at the moderates, but we just really love the giant character statues at the value hotels and always have so much fun wandering around to find them all and take photos!



Run to the Dark Side

It’s really no secret that I love all things Disney, and Raymond loves all things Star Wars. Fletcher and Lola? They love both. Throw in a weekend of running with some pretty sweet medals, and there was no way we were going to miss this.

The Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon weekend was held in Disney World April 15-17, 2016. The kids and I ran the 5K on Friday morning, bright and early. Actually, so early that there was nothing bright about it. I made a mistake when registering us, and put us in the super slow corral. I thought that was a good call at the time, so there wouldn’t be any pressure to go fast, but in reality it meant a lot of waiting around while the other corrals got a nice head start and having to run around a big crowd of walkers once it was our turn to start the race. Lesson learned for next time – and I have a feeling there will definitely be a next time. We had SO much fun!

Once we got out on the course, it didn’t take long for the Disney magic to kick in. We ran through and around Epcot, and all along the course were Star Wars scenes and characters for photo ops. We stopped for lots of photos.

Seriously. Lots of photos. And not just Star Wars ones. The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival was going on, so the park was filled with amazing character topiaries and the whole park smelled like flowers.

Nice people even stopped and offered to take photos for us – because Disney has that effect on people!

We waited longest for photos with Chewbacca – and it was totally worth the wait.

After the race there were more photo ops and character greetings.

Fletcher and Lola had an amazing interaction with Darth Vader that was a serious highlight of the day.

The next morning Raymond ran the 10K, and the morning after that he ran the half-marathon to complete the Dark Side Challenge – and in the process collected some serious bling. Check out those medals!

When we returned from Orlando, I checked out the official Disney photopass pictures from the race, and I learned a few things. The first, is that I look ridiculous running. The second is that I don’t care. Not one little bit. Because in every single photo, I was smiling. Smiling while running. Amazing.

Fletcher & Lola have decided that next time we are going to run the 10K, which scares me a little bit. But if anyone can get me to do it, it is those two!



He blinded me with SCIENCE!

I’ll admit to you now, one of the hardest things for me, when Fletcher decided on The STEM Academy at Bartlett as his middle school of choice, was the inevitability of more science fairs in our future. Ugh. The 5th grade science fair was not kind to Fletcher, though I honestly couldn’t understand why because I had thought his project was pretty darn interesting. So clearly, I was missing something. Again, ugh.

But lucky for all of us, STEM has a dedicated research class where students learn the scientific method and how to conduct research. When all was said and done, we felt like Fletcher had pulled together a pretty good project. His title was “Stopping Taylor Swift” and the premise was figuring out which common household materials have the best sound reducing qualities so he didn’t have to listen to his sister’s music. Pretty clever, no?

Apparently, very clever. Because not only did his school select his project to move on to the regional competition at Savannah State University, but at the regional he scored high enough to move on to the state level competition in Athens at the University of Georgia!!

And are you ready for the real kicker? At the Georgia Science & Engineering Fair, our boy spent a very long day standing next to his project while judges circulated and interviewed each student and scored each project, and it seems they liked what they saw and heard – Fletcher not only won Best in Category for Middle School Material Sciences, he also won the Director’s Choice Award!!!

Once again, this kid simply amazes me. I guess he knew what he was doing when he picked the science school over the art school, huh?



Spring Break in Virginia

What a treat to spend almost a week in Virginia over Spring Break! We spent a beautiful day visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (at Lola Gray’s insistence – she loves visiting historic sites she has learned about in school!) We took the kids to see the church where we got married, and though it was closed and locked so we couldn’t see inside, it was so fun to go back. After finding the church we wandered through the woods and found a little stream full of frogs. Of course we also managed to fit in lots of grandparent and cousin time, though it is never enough.





Now we are twelve

We have this lovely little book of poems by A. A. Milne called Now We Are Six. It was a gift for Fletcher’s 6th birthday. I’m sorry to say I have no idea who gave it to him, but I adore the book. It’s full of sweet little gems like this one:

“When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five, I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever,
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.”

But NOW, we are twice six. Now we are twelve. No one writes poems about twelve. Maybe they should. Because from what I can see so far, twelve is awesome.

Twelve seems to forget about schoolwork more often than I would like (and, let’s be honest, it forgets about things like bathing and wearing clean socks more often than I would like too.) Twelve can be sassy, and is pretty sure it knows everything. (Or at least more than you.) Twelve really wants to use swear words, but always asks permission first. Twelve is loud and frustrating a more than a little stinky, but it hasn’t outgrown morning hugs and bedtime kisses. Twelve has a wicked sense of humor and it’s friends can carry on hilarious conversations (you learn a lot driving carpool.) Twelve likes the same movies as you do, and is totally up for a Netflix binge. Twelve drinks coffee and sleeps in late and sends you emails from school. Twelve has its own YouTube channel. Twelve has seen some struggles – it knows it doesn’t always win, that there aren’t always happy endings. But it is still endlessly enthusiastic and eager and ready. For anything. For everything.

I miss sweet little six year old cheeks and that sweet little six year old voice and the simplicity of those long and lazy six year old afternoons. Twelve is complicated. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Hello 2016

Midlife crisis? Maybe. Ok, probably. But I don’t care. Walt Disney World is my happy place. And what could be better than ringing in the new year in my happy place with some of my favorite people in the world?

For the second year in a row, we spent New Year’s Eve at Fort Wilderness with our dear friends the Heidels. This year was even more special because they recently moved to Costa Rica, so we hadn’t seen them in far too long!

The weather was perfect on New Year’s Eve, and we made the most of it with an outdoor movie followed by a dance party on the beach. Lola Gray and I had so much fun dancing, and even dragged Raymond and Fletcher onto the dance floor for a while. (I got really upset with Raymond for taking not-so-flattering photos of me dancing, but then I saw how happy Lola looks . . . and honestly, who cares what I look like? It was fun!)

The rest of the weekend was spent riding bikes, hanging at the pool (water slide, arcade, pool games, Mickey ice cream bars – we could stay there forever!)  and exploring Fort Wilderness. We ventured out of the resort only once, to visit neighboring Wilderness Lodge for dinner. I love visiting all the different resorts, and have set it as a goal to stay at each of them one day. Oh dear. That midlife crisis thing is getting harder and harder to deny.