Monday, August 3, 2015

Prepping your Toddler for a Disney ParksTrip!


I have been daydreaming about my daughter's first Disney trip since the day I found out I was pregnant. Disney World is my happy place and I cannot wait to show it off to her. We talked about going "one day" off and on for a long time, but finally started to plan a trip around the time she turned 1 last November. September 9th of this year, almost an entire year later, we will finally be making that first trip for her and I couldn't be more excited!!

I totally believe that you can have a magical and wonderful trip to Disney at any age and without crazy amounts of prep work in advance, but that's just not my Disney style. I'm a mega planner, after all planning and daydreaming about our trip is half the fun! I wanted her first trip to be as smooth and fun for her as possible, so at the beginning of the summer we started to do things to prepare her for the trip as best as we can. Here's a list of some things we've done that you can do with your young one to help make their first (or second or third) trip to the world a little more magical:


  • We had a couple overnight trips out of town
  • Audrey fell in love with big hotel beds!
    • We really felt that testing out sleeping in a hotel room, figuring out how we could all be happy with an Audrey bedtime, traveling in a car, etc. would help us get the best idea of what a trip to the world would be like. We just drove to a town a couple hours away and then made a weekend of visiting their zoo and museums and special events. We learned a lot (Audrey loves hotel beds, we better have good reading material if we have to have lights out and quiet at 8:30, planning travel with nap times helps, etc) and it was a lot of fun for us to get out for a weekend getaway!
  • We watched lots of Disney movies, especially those featured in the parks
  • Watching Mary Poppins for the first time
    • I played lots of movies from Finding Nemo to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to Mary Poppins. She loved them all! It's great because she now recognizes those characters and gets excited when she sees them. 
  • We made an effort to name and point out characters
  • Some Disney chalk art for Audrey
    • Whenever someone wears a mickey shirt or we pass a stuffed pooh bear we point it out to her and try to get her to say the name ("who is that Audrey?"). We also drew lots of characters for her with chalk outside while she played and talked about them.  I'm hoping that when we go to Disney she will be able to watch a parade and get excited as she points out "Mermaid!" or "Mickey!". Toddlers love getting things right, so I think this will make it more fun for her. 
  • We watched fireworks
  • first time watching fireworks
    • We watched them at a festival on a weekend trip and on the Fourth of July. Disney and fireworks go hand in hand and we wanted to see how she would like them. The first time she saw them she said "pretty" and seemed to like watching, but was afraid of the loud noises. The second time she just loved it all around. It helped her acclimate to them and it also taught me that we might want to choose a fireworks viewing location near a building in case the noises become too much for her.
  • We went to a small amusement park
  • Playing on the playground at our local amusement park
    • I'll talk about this more later on, but we tried to give her as many experiences like Disney that we could in our area. We have a small amusement park in our area, so we thought we would take her. They have mostly rides for taller people, but we tried to do as many diverse things as we could to see how she liked each. Going in we thought she would love the big swinging boat ride because at home she has no fear and loves to be swung around. There she actually hated it! haha. We learned that she will want time to run around after lots of time in line so we need to plan ahead to take time for playground such as those at the Dumbo waiting area or on Tom Sawyer's island. She wasn't the least bit afraid of the "scary" ride so we can also probably tackle Haunted Mansion. Overall she did awesome and learned sometimes we have to wait in lines. 
  • We went to a crowded fair
  • This picture doesn't do the crowds justice - but trust me it was packed
    • This was really more preparing us than her because we had to learn how we would navigate the crowds with a stroller and keep an eye on her when she was out of the stroller. Audrey seemed to handle the crowds just fine!
  • We ate out a lot
  • Eating out at Hibachi!
    • This gave Audrey the opportunity to try lots of different foods, which will come in handy when we are at different restaurants and my not have her favorite food options,  as well as get her comfortable with eating with lots of distractions. 
  • We played the freeze game
    • In her gymboree class they play a game where the kids bang their hands on a big tube on the ground until the teacher yells "Freeze!". Then the kids are supposed to put their hands on their head and stop what they are doing. Audrey isn't quite two, so she's definitely not perfect at it, but making it a game helps. We used this  a few times when she would start to stray from us too far and she would stop where she was. 
  • We worked on behaviors like "don't touch"
    • This will help a lot in gift shops and icky places around the world.
  • We met with characters
  • Meeting characters around town
    • Audrey isn't the biggest fan of characters, they tend to frighten her, so we tried getting her more comfortable around them. She's still not always up for it, so at least we are now prepared for the possibility she won't like it. 
  • We exercised
    • Exercise is too harsh of a word, but we spent time walking a lot. In the parks we plan to use a stroller but there are so many places you can't. We wanted her to be used to lots of walking so we generally let her walk if she wants to rather than force her in the stroller for the majority of our outings. 
  • We read Disney books
    • Audrey loves to read. Like watching Disney movies, this was all about getting her familiar with the Disney world. 
  • We stockpiled toys
    • I've slowly been growing a collection of small toys for her as they go on sale for the plane rides and bus rides to help keep her entertained. New toys always fascinate her longer than old favorites.
  • We tried out stroller napping
  • Napping in the BOB
    • She's a pro now, but it will be helpful when we get stuck behind afternoon parade traffic in the middle of a meltdown for nap time. 
  • We observed
    • We have a VERY stubborn and strong-willed little girl that never gets tired. I have tried really watching her and trying to determine what keeps her the happiest and willing to help out. I noticed that Audrey really likes having "jobs". If you tell her little tasks like "help mommy give the puppies water" or "hold onto your backpack and don't drop it!" she gets very proud of herself and will be much more cooperative. She likes to feel like a big girl, so letting her do things on her own may take a little longer, but in the end it will make for a day with a lot more smiles. That's just my daughter, but really taking the time to observe your child and what things you can do to keep them happier, especially in high stress environments as Disney can often be, will save you lots of heartache when you go.
  • We tried lots of stimulating (and often day-long) activities
  • A few of our adventures
    • Audrey loves to play and explore new things so this was the easiest (and most fun) thing on the list. We have been to the science museum, salsa night at our local botanical gardens, the zoo, gymboree, free comic book day, star wars day at the book store, the neighborhood easter egg hunt, a baseball game, splash pads, festivals, food truck events, story time at the bookstore, and live performance shows. All of these things of helped get her ready for several days of non-stop fun :)
Those are just a handful of ideas that can help get your tot ready and excited for a Disney trip! If you have any great ideas, please post them in the comments!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Running as Therapy

Way back before I became a runner, I remember listening to runners talk and being completely baffled by them. They said things like "ugh I'm so mad right now, I really need to get out and run" or "I went for a nice 6 mile jog and gained some perspective and now I think I know what decision I'm going to make".

To them, running was therapy. I couldn't understand it. Running was torture. How could anyone think of anything but their lungs exploding or their legs falling off in a long run?

But now it's 5 half marathons and countless 5ks later, and running has become my therapy. When I want to get out some frustration I hit the pavement. When I feel like all I can do is cry, I tie up my laces. When I'm overwhelmed and exhausted, I reach for my running skirt. Sure, running is still hard (and it always will be). My lungs DO feel like they are exploding and my legs DO feel like they will fall off. However, I can appreciate the peace of mind that comes from having no goal besides putting one foot in front of the other until I feel better. I love the boost of confidence that I feel after finishing a particularly hard training run or crossing a finish line. There is something about running that clears my head and helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Running is my sanity and I'm not sure how I ever got along without it.

 It's not even just my own therapy; It's my couple's counseling.

Post Workout flirting.... and forced selfies
Recently, my husband and I went through some hard times. Having a child before you are emotionally prepared is a really hard thing, and we both dealt with it in not very healthy ways. We both made her (and our extended families' wishes to see her) our sole priority in life so that every day felt like a twisted game of Tetris: fitting together the pieces of her busy schedule and demands,never bothering to put any pieces in for us.  We never made ourselves, or our marriage, a priority. My self esteem suffered greatly and his happiness did too. It caused a lot of tension between the two of us to the point where we weren't always sure we would make it.

The one light spot in some very hard days was running. We both fell in love while running together, and it's absolutely fitting that running brought us back together again.

We both gave up on running during my pregnancy. I wasn't allowed to at times (my asthma couldn't be pushed that hard with baby on board) and it just wasn't a priority. After she arrived on the scene, I would try to run off and on and so would he, but the motivation to get started again and to find out how to fit in one more thing to our busy lives wasn't there. Finally when Kevin had a health scare about a month ago (he has always had heart problems and they flared up again), we got serious and started to do a mile or more every day. Slowly, running started to fix things.

When we were struggling with anger, resentment, frustration, sadness, or all of the above we took it out on the road. Slowly running is giving me back my sense of self worth and the desire to make myself a priority again. I can visibly tell that running is making my husband feel happy again, and that's all I could hope for. Things are still hard for us at times (did we maybe miss the meeting where they teach you how to perfectly balance the million things on your plate and be good parents too??), but at the end of the day we are happy to have each other and in love.

Finish Line Kisses
 We started out by doing a mile together every night, but realized that it doesn't always work out for us with our busy schedules and our vastly different abilities (I wheeze my way through a 10 min mile and on a really good day, he does half a mile in 2.5 minutes on the regular).  Sometimes it's better to run apart too. So, we do some runs together outside, some apart, some side by side on treadmills. When we run apart we have time to think and always come back to a situation with new perspective and a better attitude. When we run together we usually end up with smiles on our faces and flirting like teenagers again.   No matter how you choose to incorporate running, or having a healthy lifestyle for that matter, into your life, I promise you that it will only make your life richer and happier.

So thanks running for being the best therapist I could ever hope for. You have truly saved me more than once.


Glow Run Romance

Friday, April 24, 2015

What to pack for a runDisney race: gear check bag

Before my first half marathon, I had no idea what to expect to feel after a race of that distance, much less what I would need. Added on top of that was all of the additional needs of a trip to the parks. So, after doing several runDisney events, I've got my list of post-race essentials here for you today!

First you need to know what a gear check bag is. Most long distance races (races over 10k) will offer a gear check. Basically this means you may leave some of the things you would want after your event with race volunteers at an organized booth so that you don't have to worry about your stuff while you run, but it's all there for you at the finish line.

At runDisney events this is even more involved. You are given a large sturdy plastic bag (think extra large shopping bag, like toys r us) and a sticker with your bib number on it when you pick up your race packet at the expo. You can fill the bag with whatever odds and ends that you will want at the end of the race and make sure to put the bib number on your bag! (Sometimes the bib number is actually a tag you tie to the bag - either way it's for the same purpose). Before the start of your race you bring this bag to the gear check area and the volunteers will take it for you. At the end of your race, after you collect your medal you can go back to the tent (with your bib still on!) and collect your bag. No one goes in your bag so you are safe to leave things like a wallet. I wouldn't necessarily recommend that at other races, but I trust Disney! Always make sure you get the right bag. I've been at another race and accidentally been handed the wrong bag and it would've been bad if I hadn't noticed!

So what should you pack in your runDisney gear check bag?

What to pack: rundisney gear check


I should mention that this is a list of items assuming you want to visit the parks after your race with no trip back to the room. I totally and completely understand if you want to go back and relax after, but I'm a person that likes to go, go, go! I think there is something extra magical about literally leaving the race and hopping onto a ride!
  • A clean change of comfortable clothes 
    • No one likes being in sticky/stinky clothes all day after a race. Clean clothes are essential. Try to think about what would be comfortable if the worst happens in your race: chaffing! No clothes that would rub on those tough spots. 
  • All your usual park touring gear (including magic bands)
    • If you can, pack lighter than you might normally. You don't want to be schlepping around tons of weight after running so much. 
  • Power Shower Wipes
    • These things are AWESOME. Nothing is as good as a real shower but a good wipe-down with these in a bathroom stall makes a huge difference.
  • Instant Cold Ice Packs
    • After Disney races they always have ice bags readily available to you and medics to tape you up if you need it, which I totally recommend taking advantage of if you need it. However, if you spend a long day in the park after you will need something after your first bag melts. These work great. I remember  sitting at electric umbrella with my mom, both of us with our legs up in chairs icing our knees after our first race!
  • Tylenol
    • The parks usually have pain reliever, but it costs much more than if you just bring your own. Ibuprofen (Advil) is bad for runners so stick to Tylenol. 
  • A backup battery for your phone/camera
    • If you are doing a runDisney race right, you took tons of pics during your race. You will want to recharge your camera/phone so you can still capture memories of your post-race festivities. 
  • Blister bandaids
    • I love these! Some people like moleskin but these are my personal favorite. Whatever your preference, pack something to prepare for some nasty blisters. 
  • Perfume and Deodorant
    • Because obviously. Haha. Even if it doesn't really help with the odor, it makes you feel cleaner somehow!
  • A headband or hat
    • If you are a human, you will be one sweaty hot mess after your race. Bring a headband, hat, or plan to braid your hair so you can get it in check. 
  • Comfy Sweatshirt
    • I don't know if it's just me but I'm always freezing after a race! Even on the warmest days I bring a sweatshirt for extra warmth. As a silly side note, Disney medals aren't super comfortable on your neck all day, a hoodie would really help with that! 
  • Gallon Ziploc Bags
    • Good for lots of reason, but I like to stick my smelly clothes and shoes in them so they don't stink everything else up. Also great for putting ice in as an impromptu ice pack.
  • Really comfortable sandals or shoes
    • I love the feeling of peeling off my shoes and socks and letting my feet breathe after a long race (gross? sorry?) and the last thing I want to do is put on sneakers. I recommend bringing some extra comfy sandals. Again, keep in mind that you may have blisters so try to wear ones that won't rub. I got these when I was pregnant and LOVE them. They are like memory foam for your feet!
  • Makeup if that's your thing
    • I feel naked without my mascara so I try to pack a small bag of makeup because nothing is left after that many miles!
In case you are curious, after a Disney race we (my mom and I) have a little routine of what we like to do. We grab our medals and let our heart rate slow down a little. After that we watch runners finish and cheer on a few people. When we finally feel up to walking again we head into the park. The finish line is usually a 5 minute walk (even at turtle pace) from the park entrance. Once we are inside the park we find the lockers and rent one. In Epcot the lockers are very close to a bathroom, so we use that bathroom to wash up using the power wipes and everything from our gear check bag. We change into clean clothes and put all the smelly stuff and things we don't need in our locker so we have as little weight (and smell) as possible to carry around the park all day. Finally we head off for some fun in the park with our medals proudly around our neck! 

Hopefully this list will help you pack a great gear check bag! Even if you don't hop straight into the park, most of this stuff is good to have after anyways! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Embracing The New Me

When I started life's a wheeze things were very different. I was different. Back then I was starting to get into running, dead set on actually achieving my goal to run my first half marathon, and really frustrated that there wasn't more information out there about running for people like me, people with asthma. I had tons and tons of free time (although I didn't know it then) and my biggest struggles were designing the perfect running tutu costume. I was living on my own, didn't have a strict schedule, and my life revolved around my love of running. Above anything else I was a runner, Running always came first.

I started this blog based on those things. I wanted to provide more information (and hopefully inspiration) to other asthmatics. I wanted accountability to keep me pursuing my goals. And honestly I just loved sharing and creating a discussion about my passion for running and running events. As I grew more confident as a runner and finished more races, I became more and more attached to the blog and I met a lot of amazing people through it.



When I got pregnant, I naively assumed everything would stay the same. I thought I would have to take things slower, maybe back off of distance events until Audrey was here, but I'd continue with running and my blog just the way things were. There are moms that do that right? Soon after I found out I was pregnant (I found out late into my pregnancy - 15 weeks) I learned of some complications I had and was told not to put any stress on my body. I could walk but I wasn't allowed to lift more than 15 lbs and definitely no running. That was a major blow. Later some restrictions were removed but I was never really able to run.

When Audrey was born I chose to breastfeed as doctors encourage all mothers to do. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't realize I wouldn't be able to take any of my allergy medications as a result (not true for everyone, but it was for me).  I struggled hard to run even a mile here or there without having a major asthma attack. I'm just now getting to the point where I can run again (no more breastfeeding hallelujah) and it's like starting over completely new, maybe even harder. My lungs aren't conditioned, my muscles aren't strong, my joints are loose, and oh yea, finding free time as a mom is crazy hard.


Now, who I am as a person and my priorities in life are so completely changed from who I was when I first started this blog. Above anything else, I am a mother and a wife. Kevin and Audrey are my entire world and running will always come second to my family. Instead of picking out what costume to wear at my next race, I'm endlessly playing games of hide n go seek or coming up with some fun new learning activities. Instead of paying for several 5k races a month, I'm buying diapers and miniature socks that will only be lost under the couch in a few hours time. The Sara that started this blog would never believe it, but I absolutely love every second of my new life. I'm lucky beyond belief.

But what does that mean for the blog? I've missed life's a wheeze so much. I've missed running SOOO much. I kept wanting to post, but I never could run and felt like I couldn't post without any running stories to share. I really want that to change. I still hope to be a runner, I have plans for races coming up now that I'm more capable. However the blog can't be just about running anymore when the reality is, that's just not the biggest part of my life anymore. I will still post about making healthy choices, running, and you better believe family running costumes will be in the future. But I also want to be able to talk about my other passion in life: my family and being a mom. I'm always evolving as a person and I've learned that the blog needs to as well.



Anyways, I've missed you all tons and if you're still interested in hearing what antics my family and I get up to, I hope you stick around. I see big adventures in my future and I can't wait to share them here with you.

QOTD: So, what posts would you like to see coming your way? If there's any topic you are interested in, please leave a comment. I'll be listening!