Our Villainous Family Day

I want to start by thanking all the wonderful sponsors: Disney Parks, MomSelect, Duff Goldman, HP, All, Wisk, Twinings Tea and My Image Bracelet Maker for supplying free products and providing me with the opportunity to host a #DisneySide @Home Celebration.  Although I’ve received free products, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

disneyside box

Once my @Home Celebration kit arrived it was time to start the planning.  To me Disney is about making memories and spending time with family and friends so what better day to have our party than on Family Day.  It also meant I had a long weekend to get organized, or at least try to.

We received a Villains themed celebration kit so I sent out the invitations saying Disney Villain costumes were encouraged but not required.  I’m lucky enough to have a bunch of friends who are more than willing to dress up and act silly just because it’s something different to do on a cold Family Day.

I’ve come to the realization that roller derby girls and their families are some of the most fun and outgoing people I know and I love them all the more for it.   They take my Disney obsession in stride and never think twice about joining in with my craziness. They even dressed up as Darla, Jafar, the Sith Lord and the Evil Queen among others for the party.

In addition to the Villains theme I decided to focus on the tastes of Disney.  I invited a large number of people who have never been to a Disney Park so it was fun to introduce them to some of the more famous Disney dishes and ones that are personal favorites of mine.

The menu consisted of:

Cheese Soup from Le Cellier Steakhouse at EPCOT

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad from Sunshine Seasons at EPCOT

Kalua Pork Sliders with Spicy Pineapple Chutney from EPCOT Food & Wine Festival

Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Pop Century Resort

Beignets from Port Orleans French Quarter Resort

Dole Whips from Aloha Isle at Magic Kingdom

There were also poison candy apple cake pops and a beautiful Maleficent cake to go along with the Disney Villains theme.

Once everyone had “stuffed their faces” (as someone put it) it was time to move on to the games.  The kids enjoyed playing tape the smile on Mickey, creating custom creations with the My Image Bracelet Maker and doing the Villains puzzle while the adults watched and chatted. Our youngest attendee was only 2 ½ months old and even he got in on the action by getting his photo with Maleficent horns on.

It was a lovely evening and one that probably would not have happened in the middle of a cold and nasty Canadian winter if not for the #DisneySide @Home Celebration so again I say thank Disney Parks and MomSelect for this opportunity.

When all was said and done I cleaned up and then sat down with a soothing cup of Twinings Goodnight Blend Tea.  Although it’s not my usual brand of tea is was a pleasant change and a great way to end the day.

All I have left to do now is print off some of my favorite party photos on all the HP photo paper that was provided and deliver them to my friends as mementos, oh and plan the next party because this one went so well.  Everyone who attended has decided to make it a monthly event to get together with our families and come up with some theme for the evening.


I Love Disney’s FastPass+

I’ll admit I was skeptical when Disney rolled out its FastPass+ program.  It just seemed like this was one more thing I would have to plan long before we actually arrived at WDW and as much as I like planning for our vacations, my family doesn’t like to have every element of our holidays “scheduled” in advance.

For instance, after purchasing the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan one visit and booking dining reservations for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, it felt like all we did was run from one reservation to the next and it took some of the fun out of the visit for us. Now I only book one or two Table-Service meals per week to avoid the dreaded “schedule”.

If you are staying at a WDW Resort you can book your FastPass+ experiences 60 days in advance of your check-in date and if you have purchased advance tickets (without a WDW Resort stay) you can book FastPass+ experiences 30 days in advance of your use date.


From either your computer or your smart phone you can access the My Disney Experience web page or App to set up your FastPass+ experiences. You select 3 choices from the available attractions and the system will provide you with a number of time slot options for you to select from. It’s so easy.

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I liked the fact that for most experiences you get a one hour time slot and not just a specific time.  This one hour time slot provides a lot more flexibility to arrive at the attraction at a time that works for you within the hour window.

The hardest part about the whole process was deciding which 3 attractions/experiences are your favorites that you want to guarantee a time slot for.   We have a few must do’s every vacation that do not normally have very long lines so we decided to forgo using FastPass+ on those rides and used them for the rides that traditionally have longer lines (such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Toy Story Midway Mania)  so we didn’t have to wait as long.

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When all was said and done I loved the FastPass+ system and being able to book 3 attractions ahead of time.  I hadn’t realized before this trip just how much my family likes to sleep in.  We aren’t early risers.  We would much rather sleep in and then stay at the Parks until they close.  Under the old system, by not getting to the Parks early we were often too late to get a FastPass for our favorite attractions and would just have to wait in line.  The new system shortened our overall wait time immensely.  I loved it and can’t wait to use it again.

Running – Fun For All Ages

When I started running it was never with the goal of running a marathon, a half maybe, but that is still a long way away.

I’ve met a lot of supportive runners along the way but also a few that treat me as somehow inferior because I don’t run long distances. My race of choice is a 10 km and I enjoy that distance.  It’s long enough to get the blood pumping and give the muscles a good workout without being so long that I get bored and am exhausted for the remainder of the day or even the next day.

Case in point, my longest run to date was 10 miles at runDisney’s Tower of Terror race last October and it was so much fun there was no way I could get bored but it was longer than I was prepared for.  I was so exhausted for 3 days afterwards that I didn’t get to see as much of Walt Disney World as I wanted to on that trip.

Me and Lotso at Tower of Terror 10 miler

Me and Lotso at the Tower of Terror 10 miler

I know if I really wanted to I could find the time to train for a marathon, but honestly I don’t want to find the time.  It is a huge commitment that I am just not prepared to make.

Why not?  Well, I have kids at home that I like to spend time who are not as committed to running as I am and a husband with a bad knee that refuses to have surgery on it so I often train alone.  My kids on occasion run with me and I enjoy their company but 5 km is about all I can get them to run and even that is a challenge some days.  That is until a fun race is coming up.

Enter races like Run or Dye where it’s more about the fun and less about the speed.  While many runners refuse to enter these types of races I enjoy them because they give me a chance to run with my kids and have some fun.  The first time I ran one of these races was with my daughter and it was a miserable, cold, rainy day but that didn’t dampen our spirits.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and our hair and bodies where dyed for days but just as important on that miserable day was we still got out there, got our exercise and did it together.

My daughter & I at Run or Dye in 2013

My daughter & I at Run or Dye in 2013


It was so much fun we decided to do it again and this time my son and my daughter’s friend joined in the fun as well as my friends, Candice (who is expecting) and Rob, with their three children.    This time the weather was much nicer and in fact warmer than I like to run in but it was still preferable to the prior year.

I must admit (sorry Candice) that I was a little leery about running with a 3 year old but he was amazing and proves my point admirably that running is for all ages.  MacArthur ran his little heart out until his legs just would not go any more.  He made it about half way before he asked his dad to pick him up for a while.  After a brief respite he was back at it with much less complaining than many others I heard on the track that day.

Rob & MacArthur.                                                                   MacArthur was such a trooper.

Rob & MacArthur. MacArthur was such a trooper.


Yes, the course was hilly; yes, there were people walking that slowed sections down; and yes there were no water stations along the route, but seriously 5 km is not an excessive distance to go without a water break and there was plenty when you reached the finish line. Not all races are the same just as not all racers are the same so take the time check out the race you want to enter, think about what you want out of the race and why you are doing it.

This race was not fast by anyone’s standards but we were not expecting it to be with a pregnant woman, 6 kids (including a three year old) and a few people nursing injuries. Fast was not the point.  The point of running for me is to get out there, get some exercise and have fun.  If this happens, then the race was a success for me.  We all came home totally dyed with lots of great memories and had our exercise for the day.

My son, daughter, her best friend and I.

My son, daughter, her best friend and I.


Will I ever run a marathon and be looked at as a true runner by some, not likely, but I don’t care. I am happy running my shorter (and more fun) races with family and friends and will continue to do so.

What do you say?

What do you say to friends and co-workers who lost their job in a large downsizing at your company?  That was my dilemma last week.


I was torn with emotions.  Relief and happiness that I was not one of the people to be terminated.  Despair for those who were.  Even a little guilt thrown into the mix since I guessed it was coming but could not say anything or I would have lost my job too since I’m in the Legal Dept and confidentiality is absolute.


“I’m sorry” just seemed so insufficient and no words could accurately express the turmoil and empathy I felt.  In the end I settled on the truth.  “I’m not sure what to say that doesn’t sound stupid but I want you to know I’m thinking of you.”


When you think about it, Monday to Friday you likely spend more waking hours with your co-workers on a daily basis than you do with your spouse or family so their leaving is going to be adjustment for all people concerned not just those that are gone.


The day after everyone left my workplace felt almost like we were at a funeral. The remaining employees, me included, were still an emotional wreck.  I think there may have been more tears that day than the prior.  When we were informed of the terminations people were in a state of shock but by the following day reality had set it.  We were no longer going to be sharing stories and having coffee breaks with the people who had shared our lives for so long.  We were in essence grieving over the loss of our friends and co-workers.


Again I was in a situation of what do you say to those who are left.  “Everything will be alright” didn’t seem appropriate so again I pulled from my honest approach to life and said “Change happens. We don’t have to like it, but like it or not it’s going to happen.  We just have to try to make the best of it.”  


Nothing profound or terribly inspirational came out of my mouth last week but I hope those that I did talk to understand what I was trying to convey.  Quite simply, that they aren’t alone and life will go on.