Monday, November 16, 2020

Lighthouse Run 5K

This past weekend, my friends and I had the opportunity to participate in a semi-local 5K to benefit a historic lighthouse on the Gulf of Mexico, near Sabine Pass. This race has been going strong for 5 years and although they had to make some changes this year (with the number of registered participates due to COVID and dates of the race due to two hurricanes), they made it work! 

As a joke the night before, my friends and I all decided that since we were running a race on a beach, we should wear our Castaway Cay 5K shirts!

...and so we did!

In order to get to the start line, we had a pretty lengthy and early drive on our hands. I live in Lake Charles, Louisiana which is about 35 miles or so from the coast. This race took place literally ON the Gulf of Mexico and right near the location where Hurricane Laura made landfall (and not far from where Hurricane Delta also made landfall). Driving there, I felt a nervous energy - mostly about the unknown. I'd heard this area was "flattened" by the storms and although I live in the destruction all around me every day, there's just something about seeing a new area or new community that has also experienced the same thing. It's tough.

Thankfully, this drive was pleasant and a beautiful one due to the nature of the land - mostly marsh and swamp like areas!

Once we arrived, we picked up our packets, then began a seashell hunt on the beach! 

It was truly a beautiful morning! The sounds of the waves were so relaxing and the sunrise was beautiful!

Spending time with my friends was fun, too!

Back at the start line, the race director announced that they would have awards for the top overall 3 male and female winners. In my mind I thought, "uhoh"...because in a small race like this one, you start to count the amount of runners ahead of you and yeah, well, it can play games with your mind.

After we began running, my mind went straight to that - counting the amount of ladies ahead of me. There were only three ahead of me, making me the number 4 lady. Well, there's no award for number 4, so I knew if I had it in me, I would do everything in my power to pick it up towards the end. 

While running, I kept a relatively good pace behind the runner in front of me, but I knew that my slacking on running in the past couple of months since the storms were going to do me in....and I was right. At one point, there was a core group of about five of us ladies running for a while when one of the backed off, leaving me in 4th once again. 

During mile 2 on my way to mile 3, I knew I wasn't going to be able to push any harder and I had truly given this race my all. My lungs were hurting (almost to the point of wheezing) and my heart kept threatening to jump into PSVT. Sadly, I had to let any chance of passing anyone go to the wayside. 

...and that's what happened. I crossed the finish line as the 4th overall female. Whomp whomp. 

So, I decided I could take it one of two ways - I could either allow myself to feel defeated for not training like I should have or I could decide that despite the circumstances of the past few months, I gave this race my all and I should be proud of that. Just like in life sometimes, we can be upset with ourselves or we can be proud of ourselves for giving it our all. I chose option number two, because I literally had zero regrets out there. I truly gave this race everything I had in my tank! 

I wasn't too upset about my pace, either! I could definitely feel the lack of conditioning in me this go round but that just means I'll do better next time!

A couple of things about this course affected my pace as well - we were running on sand the entire way and although the sand was mostly packed, it's still a different feel! Also, 95% of the "packed sand route" was at a slant, so we were running at an angle. 

With all of that being said, I LOVED this race. It was different, it was beautiful, the sound of the waves/ocean was incredible, and I can't wait to run this one again in the future! 

We really had a great time!! My friend's mom did this one with us as well and used the opportunity to collect shells along the way. She crossed the finish line with an armful and was literally a hit! It was too funny!

Our friend Kenzie was at the race as well (and baby Asher). She served as our photographer!

Back to the devastation in the area - I'll be honest, I was surprised (happily) to see structures some standing at all. Most of them were damaged, but still stood strong despite the insane winds blasting their way during Hurricane Laura. One thing that struck me as odd about the photo above was the random blue door, still intact on a home that has lost everything! It was sad, yes, but seeing those who were rebuilding and getting their homes back together made me smile. I'm grateful for the strength and resilience of our Southwest Louisiana communities. We've been hit hard this year, but we are coming back - even though it's a slow work in progress, it's still progress!

After the race, we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel and it totally hit the spot! It was the perfect ending to a great morning spent with my friends!

Have you ever run a race on a beach? What were your thoughts on the experience? 

Monday, November 9, 2020

4.5 Year Old Kid Update

On October 5, Brayden turned four and a half years old. (A fun fact, 10/5  is also my dad's real birthday!) I've seen a huge change in him since he turned four back in April - it hit mostly over the late summer and suddenly, he grew a few inches taller and began talking/speaking like a "big kid". As much as I can see his baby/toddler hood as a thing of the past, he still loves to "snuggle", rock on the occasion, and be close to mom, so I'm holding onto that as long as I can!

Sadly, much of the past six months have been spent in quarantine, but we made the best of it and truly soaked up our time together as a family!

Speaking of quarantine, we took the time to learn how to ride a "real" bike vs the little push and stroll trike he owned previously. Once he got the hang of the bike, he was rocking and rolling!

 During the spring/summer, Brayden discovered the joy of picking wildflowers! We picked SO many during our walks/runs, we pretty much emptied our running route of them. If we see one on the occasion, he still likes to stop and pick it for momma's "base" aka vase.

One of my favorite memories from early summer was the day we took the boat out to explore the lake and surrounding river. Brayden LOVED riding in the boat and we vowed to take it out again more often. (We need to do this again, soon!) Another favorite past time became the boat launch. Brayden loves to sit and watch the boats take off and return back to their trucks. We've picked up snow cones several times, then hung out there and watched the water!

These times are priceless and we love to soak them up when we can!

In June, we  held a very belated birthday party for Brayden. All he wanted was for his friends to come over and hang out and get a big water slide, so that's what we did!

Brayden also has the sweetest little heart. In July, my mom's birthday present hadn't yet arrived and we were celebrating her birthday. He was so concerned that she would be sad because she didn't have a present to open, so we made her one that evening. He was so excited to give it to her and it was a precious moment!

He also hates when people cry! He will immediately run and give you a hug to make it all better!

Brayden was able to start school for about zero point five seconds back in August. They literally had two weeks of school, then Hurricane Laura happened. His school facility took so much damage, they still haven't reopened and they are projecting a January time frame. There are a lot of schools here in the same boat, so we are trying to work with him at home as much as we can. We've mainly been focusing on writing his name and sight words. He's getting there, but he's not quite there yet on writing his name.

When it came time to evacuate for Hurricane Laura, we literally packed up my vehicle with all the dogs and our prized possessions and headed to Texas. Jason had to stay back at work and how I made the 5 hour drive with a child and two dogs is beyond me...but we made it!

Several Bucee's stops were also included along the way which Brayden LOVES! Buc-ee's = Disney World in Brayden's mind!

While evacuated, we tried to make the most of our time, so we went to a local "zoo". Among the very large snake exhibit (gross), they also had a petting area. I'd have to say that this was Brayden's favorite part of our entire week in Texas! He loved feeding the goats and sheep!

For my dad's birthday, we took another trip to Texas and stopped at all four Buc-ee's along the way. Brayden couldn't stop talking about plans for the trip for weeks, then once it actually happened, he was one excited little boy!

We also picked out Brayden's halloween costume back in September. He wanted to be "all the Paw Patrols", so we compromised on a Marshall costume with a Chase candy bucket. He was happy with that, so we went with it!

As far as eating goes, I can see his likes expanding ever so slowly. He's still on his usual chicken nuggets/french fries, pizza spaghetti, tacos, but we can sometimes convince him to try something different or taste something new where as he was completely opposed to that idea before. 

He's definitely speaking in full sentences and can carry on conversations. He loves playing with his little friends and going to the park. He also has the world's biggest memory and can remember things that blow my mind!

Daily naps are still a part of his routine but I can see those leaving before long. I'm attempting to keep him on the same schedule they use at school (still napping every day) but I'm sure that'll be a thing of the past once this school year is done. 

Watching him grow is bittersweet, but I'm loving the kid he's becoming. It's so much fun being the mom to Brayden!

I'll be back in April of 2021 for Brayden's 5th and final update! I feel like age 5 is a good place to call it on these. However, he will still make appearances on instagram and on the blog here as well! Thanks for following along with our updates!

Friday, November 6, 2020

It's Been A While - An Update!

Hello hello hello! 

LONG time no "see"! I have good reason, I promise and I have several new blog posts coming in the next few weeks. Boy, I've missed this! 

I figured since it's been so long, a little update was in store. My area of the world has been through a whirlwind of a past few months (if you follow me on instagram, you know what I mean) and I do plan on sharing more on our "life" during the storms and after in future posts. I love where I live and have absolutely no intention of moving, but this year has been a doozy on all of us. First corona and shut downs, then hurricane season...I'm more than a little ready to move beyond this time in our lives!

Hurricane Laura impacted my hometown and personal home back on August 27th (also my birthday - and one I'll never forget)! Three weeks later, Hurricane Delta hit our coast just 12 miles from where Hurricane Laura made landfall. Thankfully, we had no additional damage to our home from Delta, but a lot of friends and neighbors did. It's sad to drive around and see devastation everywhere. Even now, two and a half months since the storms and things still look rough and likely will for a long time. Debris litters the roadways, homes have blue tarps on their roofs, exposed beams, or no roofs at all. In several instances, only a concrete slab remains where a home once was. Some say it's going to take years to get back to "normal".  To top all of this off, the insurance companies have made the struggle of repairing homes insane and ridiculously difficult. I don't want to get into it all here, but there are facebook group after facebook group that describe the over the top struggles we are having to face, just to get our homes repaired. Yes, I realize insurance companies are a business, too...but y'all, these cases are just downright absurd. 

My intention for this wasn't to be all doom and gloom, but I wanted to paint a picture of our current situation - this is literally where we are at in this place in our lives. Yes, we still function. Yes, we still continue on with our lives, work, church, etc because it's our "community" that is so important - we need each other in these hard times. And yes, there is still a lot laughter. :) 

Needless to say, my running groove has taken an impact since the storms as well. Downed fences means lots and lots of stray animals. Debris in the roadways means sometimes only once car can pass and it's just simply not safe. Jason works at an oil and gas refinery and they have spent countless hours in the past two months trying to get everything back up and running so the rest of the US can carry on as normal. This means he hasn't been home as much and running consistently with a 40+ pound four year old isn't my idea of a fun time, especially with the roadways as they are. Thankfully, Jason's schedule has slowed down a lot and I am just now (this week) seeing more opportunities to run so YAY for that!

As far as damage to my personal home - we are going to need a new roof, new soffit/fascia around a lot of our home, new window screens, a new sing set, repairs to our shed, new deck rails, and a new chimney on the roof. We finally have everything set in motion, we are currently on a list, waiting for our turn for repairs. In the grand scheme of things, our damage was SO minimal and I'm grateful for that. It truly is sad when you drive around town and witness some of the damage others homes have sustained. 

On a positive and incredibly random note, we are still planning on going to WDW in February on what should have been the Princess Half Marathon weekend. I'm also still planning on running the races around the resort property so that should be fun! Our plane tickets were officially purchased last night! Anyone else still traveling to WDW during that week?

Well, there's my update! I'll be back with more from Halloween shindigs to belated birthday celebrations, evacuating for hurricanes, Brayden 4.5 year update, and more! 

As always, if you'd like to stay up to date with our current lives, you can follow us over on instagram!

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! 

Friday, October 2, 2020

runDisney Haunted Mansion Virtual 5K

Hi there, friends! New blog post - who dis? 

Yes, it's been a LONG time, but I have very good reason. If you follow me on instagram, then you know that Hurricane Laura hit my home town of Lake Charles, LA as a category 4 hurricane and wreaked havoc everywhere. My initial intention to run the final leg of the runDisney summer virtual 5K series on my birthday (August 27th) changed as that was the day that Laura hit and pretty much ranks up there as one of the worst days I've had in a very long time. 

After returning home a week later, we spent a good bit of time cleaning up our yard and my parent's yard. We also lived at their house for three weeks with a generator, waiting on our electricity to turn back on. It's been an interesting road and one where I've tried to stay positive, but running has been hard for many reasons. 

So, my well laid plans of running the Haunted Mansion 5K on August 27th were altered and instead, the distance was completed on October 1st. Better late than never, right? 

This has been the first week in a while where I felt like I could truly breathe and had a little bit of extra "free" time in the evenings. Last night, Brayden and I set out on our 5K journey together and I felt like our route was fitting for the "theme" of this race - it was daunting with a hint of eerie mixed in. :)

Our start line began in front of the garage (complete with hurricane damage) and our remaining stash of MRE's - perfectly fitting for the three miles ahead! 

As we ran, we encountered a few doggies (thankfully the were on the smaller side), downed trees on the side of the road, tarped roofs on houses, and several friendly faces outside who waved as we passed. 

Trees like this are everywhere and it always amazes me to see - the root ball of the tree was literally ripped out of the ground! The powerful force of hurricanes completely blows my mind.

We reached mile 3 as the sun began to set, among the various debris lined streets.

At a month out from the storm, things around here are slowly starting to improve. Tree trucks make the rounds daily to pick up roadside tree debris. They haven't even started on the other debris yet (shingles, fencing, siding, etc). Although they are working hard, this is going to be a very slow and gradual process. I told Jason that I'm truly learning how to "chill" because I want everything done like a sprint and this will definitely be like a "marathon" to complete. 

Our finish line landed us right back in my front yard, complete with the remains of my fence I worked so hard to stain back in the spring (yes, I'm bitter about it)! 

...and with that, the three part runDisney Virtual 5K Summer Series turned Fall Series is complete! :)

I plan to return (soon) with more stories from our hurricane "adventures" and the cleanup process. This has been one of the most interesting experiences of my life and one I hope we don't have to go through again for a very very long time. 

Have a great weekend! 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Disembarking the Disney Dream & Disney Springs

Well, here we are in August and before we blink, it'll be Christmas time once again! In my thinking and reminiscing about Christmas at the parks, I was reminded that I never finished our November trip recaps, so here's the final one for you today! :)

Although we disembarked the Disney Dream on this day and it was technically our last full day before flying home, we seriously didn't waste a single minute of it! 

We awoke to the sunrise that morning in Port Canaveral and it was beautiful! It was definitely a mix of emotions as we enjoyed being able to split this trip with land and sea, but we were sad to only spend 4 days on board the Dream!

This was our very first time to utilize the pull out couch, so I had to capture our final morning! :)  At least we didn't have "chocolate face" that morning!! Hah!

Breakfast on our disembark day was at Animators Palate and it was nice to be able to say goodbye to our servers.

Something I noticed on our previous cruise were these signs in the hallway, just before boarding the ship and just after disembarking the ship. One side says "Welcome Aboard" when you're walking the hallway towards the ship and the other side says "See You Real Soon" when you're walking away from a ship. What a play on the emotions, huh? :)

For  our trip back to WDW, we used Happy Limo again and everything was great! They text the name of our driver to me while we were eating breakfast and our timing worked out great.

Goodbye Disney Dream!

Something I loved about this trip was the way we split it into pieces. Our first segment was at Walt Disney World for the Wine & Dine Half with a stay at Pop Century. We then boarded the Disney Dream for a four night cruise, followed by a one night stay at All-Star Sports and a trip to the Magic Kingdom for the very first Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party of the season!

All-Star Sports was a new-to-me resort and another one marked off my list!

Although it was not yet updated (like Pop Century) during our trip, I found everything to be in working order and just fine!


Our room was located in the tennis section and I thought it was super cute!

After getting settled in our room, we hopped a bus to Disney Springs for lunch at the Polite Pig and to check out the Christmas Tree Trail (both new-to-us experiences)!

Lunch was delicious! Jason, Brayden, and I all split this tray and it was perfect! I'll definitely be back! :)

Even though we were stuffed, we still left room for our trip-tradition, ice cream from Ghirardelli! Note to self, paper straws are terrible with shakes - always pack reusable straws in the future!

We LOVED the Christmas Tree Trail! Everything was so cute and festive! The trees truly reminded me of the old character themed trees in the (now non-existent) Camp Minnie Mickey at Animal Kingdom, these were just on a much larger scale!

See what I mean?! How cute!

I also loved the little extra touches that surrounded the trees.

Take this poster next to the Mulan tree for example!

My husband (who truly earned his magic band name of "bah humbug") said this was his favorite tree of them all. He knows I always go overboard for Christmas, so there's that...

A few of my favorite trees included:

Toy Story



They were all so cute, it was hard to pick a top favorite.

Remember those magic bands I mentioned? Well, we all decided to order red magic bands for this portion of our trip and theme them with Christmas names (hence Jason's "Bah Humbug")! Mine was Noelle from the soon-to-be-released Disney Plus movie of the same name.

Spoiler alert: the movie did not disappoint!

After leaving Disney Springs, we returned to our room to drop off our purchases and change our shirts for the Christmas party. We were so excited to spend the evening at one of our favorite places during one of our favorite times of the year! If you'd like to check out a recap of our night at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, (and a video recap on YouTube), check out the links below! :)

We loved being able to spend this vacation with our friends and hope to be able to do so in the future. It truly was a wonderful trip, one I'll cherish and remember for the rest of my life!

Thanks for coming along with us! Have a magical day!

Disney Travel Day: Wine and Dine Expo & Animal Kingdom
Disney Day 2: Wine and Dine 10K & Kids Races & Hollywood Studios/Epcot
Disney Day 3: Wine and Dine Half Marathon & Magic Kingdom
Disney Day 4: Boarding the Disney Dream
Disney Day 5: Castaway Cay
Disney Day 6: Nassau
Disney Day 7: At Sea Day
Disney Day 8: Disney Springs and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

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