Newsies on the Road

Newsies_(musical)_poster

I saw Disney’s Newsies the musical for the first time during opening week on Broadway in New York. I never knew much about the show and it blew me away. What I remember most about the show was the phenomenal dancing, all male dancing. There is something very powerful and mesmerizing about all those guys spinning, leaping and flipping in unison. The dancing is what I looked most forward to when I got the invite to review the show at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

It did not disappoint.  I can’t tell you how many times the choreography gave me chills. It was honestly better than I remembered. Seize the Day had me wanting to run from the theater to start changing the world for the better, while simultaneously completing insanely difficult dance moves and acrobatic tricks. However, the dancing wasn’t the only part of the performance that had me moving. This time the lead girl, Katherine, truly resonated with me.

I’ve been slacking on work lately…. Even after 16 months I can’t seem to juggle stay-at-home Mom/blogger/tutor/what have you. (Although, I have discovered many other bloggers secret: a babysitter. I should really look into those…) In any case, the female star of Newsies, Katherine played by Stephanie Styles, is a true hardworking, witty, stand-up for what is right, seize the day kinda gal. She’s basically a Lorelei Gilmore for the 19th century, and I adore her. In fact she’s this week’s #wcw.

playbill

Her character, which doesn’t even exist in the movie, is a super cool girl that you not only want your daughters to look at as a role model, but that you yourself will look up to and love. There are a few notable changes between the movie and the musical, and in my opinion, they improved the show, especially with Katherine’s character. It’s nice to have the strong woman who can hold her own in the almost all male cast.

play

Speaking of the male cast, they are bursting with talent. Yeah, they can dance their asses off, but they can also sing as well as any other musical cast, act and entertain an audience that ranges in age from preschoolers to senior citizens. Husband and I were both impressed and entertained from beginning to end.

date night

If you want to see Newsies in Nashville, you have a few nights left to catch it! For those of you outside of Tennessee, don’t forget to check out their tour schedule. AND, for all the locals you MUST take a peek at the line up for next year’s Broadway season! I am stoked!!!

Cheers!

Toddler Tips at Disney

We love taking Luna everywhere, but we were definitely most excited about taking her to Disney World..the place where we met, dated, fell in love, got engaged and got married… it’s a second home to us. Clearly, visiting Disney (any Disney park) never gets old to us. Every trip is a great trip, but going with a baby is definitely a different kind of trip…in a very good way.

Everyone told us to wait to take Luna. They told us she wouldn’t like it, she won’t remember it (so?), it will be too stressful and so on and so on. Being us, we didn’t listen and took her anyways, and I’m so glad we did. Not only did she love it, but we enjoyed every bit of it too. Sure, we didn’t get to ride every single ride we wanted, but who cares. We’ve ridden them all a hundred times anyways. It was worth missing any ride to watch Luna hug Minnie, dance to classic Disney hits, play on every single slide and her eyes light up as she watched Disney Jr. Live. It was magical, as they say.

If you love Disney and want to take your toddler to Disney, do it. Luna was so entertained that she never once had a meltdown, that says a lot. Just take it slowly, make a plan, but don’t freak out if everything doesn’t go accordingly and most importantly, follow these tips:

1. Pack accordingly. Bring a stroller and pack it with snacks, water, toys, bubbles, regular diaper back stuff, a camera, sunscreen and you’ll still have room for souvenirs. Luna napped in her stroller everyday and was soooo nice to have something to carry all of our stuff as well!

*I recommend a stroller fan too!

stroller

2. Let the kids make friends. Disney is packed full of babies, toddlers and kids. Luna is not shy so she was thrilled to run up to other children and see what was happening. It was pretty darn cute to watch the toddlers interact, and kept them entertained if we were waiting in line. While waiting for Disney Jr. Live one adorable little boy gave one of his brand new Mickey suckers to Luna and they were instantly bff’s.

sucker

3. Let them be free. When riding the bigger rides we used Disney’s “rider switch” option, which allowed 2 of us to go on the ride, while one waited with Luna. Then the one who waited go to go through fastpass, and bring one of the previous riders with them. While the one person waited with Luna we just let her run free. It’s her favorite thing to do at the moment. She LOVED running around the parks, looking through the shops, exploring, watching the water fountains and climbing every single obstacle she came across.

running

4. Let nap time happen anywhere.

nap

5. Visit all the kiddy shows and rides that you use to skip. Disney Jr. Live is probably the one show we have never seen at Disney World. I have to admit, it’s pretty cute. I wouldn’t see it on my own, but I loved how much Luna loved it. She was dancing, clapping and totally into the characters on stage. Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog…

clubhouse

6. Take them on rides! There are A LOT of rides that are appropriate for babies! There’s Dumbo, Small World, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, the TTA, the flying carpets and that’s just to name a few! Luna seemed to enjoy the rides too. She was getting fussy right before Dumbo, but the second we started flying she was happy as can be.

flying dumbo

7. Seek shade! Florida is hot. We were worried about Luna (and ourselves) getting sunburned and overheated. Luckily, there are MANY shaded areas to hangout and cool off. One of my favorite spots is “The Seas” at EPCOT. After riding the Nemo ride, we hung out around the aquariums for a while. Luna clearly found it very peaceful.

manatee

8. Use your hotel pool. We never ever spent time at our hotel pre-Luna, but this time around I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and swim. We stayed at Coronado and they have a great pool, baby pool, playground and sandbox area. Luna had a blast!!! I’m pretty sure she still thought she was at Magic Kingdom.

pool

9. Take lots and lots and lots of photos! Your kids will only be this age at Disney once and you are going to want to remember all of those magical moments. We took a good combination of posed and candid photos. I love this moment that Bella caught on camera s we rode the TTA.

tta

10. Be cheesy and pack those Disney outfits. I’m always cheesy, so it’s no surprise that Luna, me and Bella had Disney outfits for each and every day.

minnie baby

11. As I’ve said before, plans do not always go accordingly, and that’s fine! I was really excited about having a character lunch with Luna at Crystal Palace, but Luna fell asleep before we got there and woke up after we left. No biggie, we just got all the characters to pose with the sleeping baby. Plus, I actually got to eat my entire lunch in peace!

pooh

12. Meet some characters.. Let’s be real, Luna does not actually care about them (minus Minnie), so I was not going to wait for hours and hours to meet someone like Elsa. However, it was worth getting a fastpass and waiting 5 minutes to meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie on our last day. She wasn’t scared and seemed to like them.

goofey

13. Find the play places. There are quite a few “playground” type areas. The best was at Dumbo. Instead of waiting in line you actually go to an air conditioned indoor playground. They give you a buzzer and it buzzes when it’s your turn to get on the ride. BEST. IDEA. EVER.
dumbo

Hope this helps! Let me know your own tips for going  to Disney with a toddler!

Cheers!

I Conquered Everest! (The race, not the mountain)

As you may have heard, we went to Disney World a couple of weeks ago and IT WAS AWESOME! We have been dying to go to Disney since having Luna, and we found the perfect excuse to plan a trip: a race. Several months ago, we signed up for the Expedition Everest Challenge. So, not only did we get to spend 4 magical days at our home away from home, but we also got to experience a magical run and after party. I think Disney runs might be my new obsession!

run disney

The Expedition Everest Challenge is a 5k through Animal Kingdom at night with obstacles and a scavenger hunt! I’ve got your interest, right? It was an extra special race because it was the 8th and final challenge. Why? I’m not sure, but I believe it has something to do with the Animal Kingdom expansion… Anyways, to prepare for the run we picked out Winnie the Pooh themed costumes. I was Pooh, Bella was Piglet and Husband was Christopher Robin. (BTW, I don’t know if Husband will ever allow me to dress him in costume for a race again… apparently Christopher Robin isn’t super cool. Whatevs. It could’ve been worse, my original plan was the three kittens from Aristocats.) We also prepared by doing Insanity Max 30 and running almost never. It’s so hard to stick to a running schedule, am I right?!

kittens
You’ve got to admit, it’s a cute idea!
Here's what we went with instead...
Here’s what we went with instead…

our group

Even without running we totally kicked butt! We ran our fastest 5k ever at 22 minutes and 51 seconds! Husband placed 15th out of individual men, Bella placed 7th and I placed 8th out of individual women. I am super proud of us, and impressed with Insanity Max 30 for keeping us in good shape. It was very intimidating to start the race in the first heat. We were surround by individuals and teams who have placed or won the challenge in previous years. Some had run every single year. We were shaking in our tutu’s, but we managed to keep up with the pack and it was a blast!

Before the race began
Before the race began

We ran through the parking lot, through the park, through three (albeit mediocre) obstacles and across the finish line. At the finish line we were handed the usual bottle of water, a cool towel and a clue! That’s right, the challenge was only halfway over. We were to solve the first clue, run to the second, give the correct answer, receive the second clue and so forth. It was not easy to keep running, but we pushed through it and took a few breaks to solve some serious clues. There were a total of 6 clues and at the second finish line we had to hold up the “hidden Yeti” with our 6 solved clues in order to cross and receive our medals. It was exhilarating and so much fun!

We did it!
We did it!

Then, the after party. We celebrated at the post-race private after party in the park. The Dinoland and Asia sections were open for us to enjoy. There were characters, open food and drink stands and rides! Yay, for rides with no lines! We rode Expedition Everest, Dinosaur and Kali River Rapids. It may have been a mistake to get soaking wet on the rapids considering it was chilly out and night time, but it was still worth it to be in Animal Kingdom at night during our own private party.

We conquered Everest!
We conquered Everest!

We didn’t get back until almost 2am. (Wild night for us lame parents.) After spending the entire day at Magic Kingdom and running all night we were EXHAUSTED! It was definitely a night to remember. In fact, it was such a good time that we are already planning our next Disney Run: The Disney Princess Half Marathon!!! (And, by “we” I mean me and Bella. Husband is thrilled to be the babysitter.) Who’s with me???

There were characters all along the course cheering us on and Mickey and Minnie were at the after party.
There were characters all along the course cheering us on and Mickey and Minnie were at the after party.

Also, who has advice? I am SO not prepared. Good thing I’ve got 9 months to whip myself into running shape!

Cheers!

Making the Best of Any Situation

foam glow
Our before pic

Another weekend, another run. We typically do one glow each month, but May is special so we did two runs! The Disney Expedition Everest Challenge (blog to come) and the Foam Glow 5k in Nashville. Saturday night was the Foam Glow run and we had our biggest group yet! We ran with 9 of our friends, and while the race was a complete disappointment, we still had the time of our lives.

The start
The start

Let me do you all a favor: do NOT sign up for the foam glow run when it comes to your town! It was such an unorganized mess. It was impossible to actually run because of the crowds, mess, darkness and a myriad of other issues, and it was not nearly what they advertised. Having said all of that…we still had a great night.

lined up under the black lights and ready to go!
lined up under the black lights and ready to go!

Here’s why, we were with awesome people and we made the best of a disappointing situation. We went all out with our white clothes and glow gear, and I’m always happy when I get to dress up in some form or another. While waiting in the crowd of 15,000 people, we started a trend of breaking our glow sticks open and splattering them all over our clothes. (BTW, it burns if it gets in your eyes.). We walk/jogged/skipped through the dark course while tripping over strollers, children and holes. A couple of us may have peed in the bushes to avoid VERY long port-a-potty lines. We sang, danced, finished the race with a myriad of new inside jokes. Next, was the foam party.

This is what it looks like when you throw glowing liquid on your clothes: awesome.
This is what it looks like when you throw glowing liquid on your clothes: awesome.

There was a DJ, a mosh pit and several colored foam machines. There was foam up to our knees and thousands upon thousands of bubbles showering us from above. We jumped around and danced like college kids again, but we were done after about 20 minutes. Of course, we then realized we were drenched and none of us brought towels or a change of clothes. Woops.

foam party

It was a good time, but honestly, the best part of the night was probably our very late and long dinner at iHop, because where else do you go at midnight when you are covered in neon foam?

The view when you looked up.
The view when you looked up.

I won’t sign up for this even again because I prefer more organized 5k’s, but I will definitely be spending more time with these crazy people who know how to make anytime a good time!

And, the after shot.
And, the after shot.

Cheers!

Spreading Some Love

A couple of weeks ago, I had a mother daughter photo session with Dottie Beasley. A friend of mine told me about a “pay it forward” payment plan Dottie recently started offering, and after reading about it and Dottie’s bio on her site, I just had to reach out to her. I knew instantly that Dottie was someone I would want to be around, so I emailed her, asked her to be friends and booked a photo session.

Her “pay it forward” plan is simple. You book a session, do something nice for someone (anything!), take a picture of you and said person, send Dottie the pic with a few sentences describing your “pay it forward” experience and voila! Your photo session is paid in full! Isn’t that incredible? It’s Dottie’s way of spreading love around and making this crazy world we live in a happier place. It’s genius and beautiful.

For my “pay it forward” fee I decided to treat some new friends of mine. You can read about my story here, but to sum it up, I wanted to let my new “mom friends” in my life know I appreciate them. They have given me support, company, sanity and a lot of laughs over the last several months and I am oh so so thankful for them!!! New moms, trust me, you need a great group of Moms in your life.

And, NOW I can share the outcome of my photo session! I love them and I cannot thank Dottie enough for capturing such beautiful candid moments between me and Luna. We literally just danced, sang and played in one of Nashville’s coolest coffee shops, Atmalogy, while she snapped away. Here are some of my favs.

HZ-16
Romper from Rags to Raches

HZ-1 HZ-3-BW HZ-11 HZ-12 HZ-15 HZ-18-BW HZ-19-BW HZ-23 HZ-27

Dottie says she wants to take photos of us that hold up a mirror and say ‘Look! You’re awesome! You’re beautiful! And you are loved’. Well, Dottie, that is exactly how these photos make me feel. Thank you for doing what you do and spreading love around as you do it! People like you make this world a happier place.

For any of you locals looking for a photographer, I highly recommend Dottie and suggest you check out her work here and here and here!

Cheers!

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have mothered, longed to mother or helped mother others. You are heroes!

Berry Pickin’

Luna and I are so lucky. We have the best group of friends here in Tennessee. We have been on so many play dates over the last several months, and while they began as more of a social gathering for the Moms, the babes are finally starting to be social themselves. It’s the best. This week we took our little ones to Wagner Berry Farm.

Aren't they the cutest group of girlfriends?
Aren’t they the cutest group of girlfriends?

The farm was supposed to be closed due to an abundance of pickers over the weekend, but lucky for us, the farmer couldn’t turn down 5 moms with 5 toddlers! He welcomed us and let us have the whole farm to ourselves as he walked with us and told us all about the different berries.

wagner

We spent the morning roaming up and down the garden rows, taste testing the 7 different types of strawberries and filling our baskets.

Luna may have taken advantage...
Luna may have taken advantage…

Luna stuffed her face with whole berries (leaves included) and possibly a couple of green berries too!

strawberry

Luna and I picked about 8 pounds of warm fresh berries and they are almost gone already! We will definitely be back for more!

picking

What fun stuff do you like to do with your toddlers this time of year?

big girls

Cheers!

Minnie Mouse Love

tta

We are home from our first Disney vacation with Luna, and I am very tempted to say it was our best trip yet, and considering, we met, got engaged and got married there, that’s saying a lot. We love Disney, but seeing the magic through our daughter’s eyes makes it much more magical than I ever imagined. We spent our three days at the parks doing lots of what we thought Luna would like (and a little of what only we would enjoy). I had not doubt that Luna would enjoy running around, dancing to the music and looking at all the sights, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that she not only enjoyed, but interacted with the shows, rides and characters. Her favorite  (and our favorite) part of the trip was by far, the moment she met Minnie Mouse.

My mini Minnie!
My mini Minnie!

Luna has a small stuffed Minnie Mouse that she has loved since she was just a couple of months old.  In fact, it is the first object she ever smiled at. I have said for a while that she loves Minnie Mouse in general, but Husband has refused to believe that she actually recognizes Minnie Mouse. That is until we went to Disney World.

pink minnie
Waiting for Disney Jr. Live

 

Every. Single. Store. we went into had rows and rows of stuffed Disney characters. There was Mickey, Goofy , Donald, Pooh, Simba, Nemo and of course, Minnie. Luna would scan every aisle until she came to Minnie. She then instantly pulled Minnie from the shelf and ran with her to either me or her Daddy. This happened, not once, but in ever single store and gift shop.

picking minnie big minnie stuffed minnie

Obviously, I convinced Husband to buy her one. I mean, how can you not buy this girl a Minnie Mouse during her first trip to Disney?

stroller minnie

Then, the most magical moment of all happened. Our last day at Disney was spent at EPCOT. We decided to use one of our fastpasses for a character spot. We were somewhat apprehensive about spending time in line for Luna to meet characters that she would most likely be terrified of, but we decided to give it a shot, and I am oh so so glad we did!

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minnie kiss

She met Mickey and loved him. Next, was Goofy. She loved him too. Finally, the grand finale was her supposed favorite character, Minnie Mouse. We slowly set her on the ground about 6 feet from Minnie and nervously waited to see what would happen. Luna’s little eyes lit up when she spotted Minnie. She ran to her, arms out and hugged that giant mouse! Minnie “kissed” her head, held her hands, hugged her and interacted with her for a good three minutes before we stepped in for photos. It was magical!

meet minnie hey minnie

Minnie Mouse was the highlight of our trip, but I have SO much more to share! Stay tuned for Disney tips and tricks as wells as some adorable photos!

all mickeys

Chees!