The Romagnolo Family

The Romagnolo Family

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The 2017 Balloon Festival Half Marathon

     This morning was the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon.  This was my first half marathon a year ago.  I remember it being so fun last year, so I was excited to run it again.  Today, it was my 6th half marathon but the first one that I've run since last March.  My friend Wanda was doing this race with me again and met me at my place so that we could walk to the starting line again.

This is the temperature that was greeting us.

Not a good sign when you see 90% humidity.  

We found the 2:35 pacers.  I was hoping that I would be able to keep up with them through out the race.

I was kicking butt and taking names the first 3 miles.  I did pretty well keeping up with them, even up Los Rios.  It was so hot though that the 11:30ish pace was making me want to throw up as we went up Los Rios.  It was right around Ranch Estates that I really started losing them.  But, to be fair, I was stopping to take pics of the sights.

I trained on this rode for my long runs and he had never been out to say hi, until today.

Can you see how red my face was at miles 4-5?  It was HOT!

This was in front of one of my old student's house!  😍

At that point, the 2:40 pacers were starting to pass me.  I was trying really hard to keep up.  At some point, maybe about mile 6 or 7, I knew that I wasn't going to PR.  Rather than get frustrated, I decided to keep pace with my friend Wanda and enjoy running with a friend.  I knew that there were hills in the neighborhoods, but I think that I had blocked out how many and that there was an elevation gain of 319 feet.  😁

Wanda and I did a lot of walking.  It was the only way to survive, especially during miles 10-12 when there was NO shade as we ran through Oak Point Preserve.  I didn't stop for selfies with the first several mile markers because I was trying to keep up.  After awhile I said "who cares".  😃  We stopped.

The Plano Festival puts on a great race.  I hate that the weather played such a factor in today's race.  It's a beautiful course and there were PLENTY of water/gatorade stops.  We never questioned which way to run because there was always a volunteer to point us in the right direction.  Some of those volunteers were phenomenal.  They were loud and rowdy, cheering us on.  Many made signs for us...

Thank you to all of the volunteers and to the Plano Police and Fire Departments for being out there for us today!  You guys rock!  

     Wanda and I were so happy to be rounding the corner to the finish.  I especially was because I knew that I was going to have two of the cutest cheerleaders waiting for me!  For an added bonus, I had one of my students that had gotten up early on a Sunday morning to come cheer me across the finish line!

Thanks Ryan!  You made my day!  I loved the sign!

One of my children must have gotten a hold of my friend's phone.  😂

I loved seeing these cuties at the finish with their signs!

After we crossed the finish, it was like my body knew it and was about to shut down.  I didn't even go straight for the medals.  I had to sit because I could feel myself ready to pass out.  I dumped water on my head and then Ryan and Lyla went and got me more.  I actually had to sit two more times before we could go get food.  Lyla and Mia made sure that I had plenty of gatorade though  They took good care of their mommy.  Oh wait, do you want to see the medals?  

They are SO pretty!!! 💜💜

Here was breakfast.

Eggs, Hashbrowns, Bacon, a Cinnamon Roll and Applesauce

I wouldn't say that I had as much fun this year as I did last year, but that really is because of the heat.  The Plano Balloon Festival did everything right.  I will definitely keep doing this race.  Be sure to check out my vlog for more of a recap.  The race recap videos will be coming soon.

Until then keep pushing toward your dreams!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The 2017 Plano Balloon Festival 5K

     Today was the Plano Balloon Festival 5K.  This was my second time to do it.  Last year I was trying to PR (have a personal record).  This year I didn't care so much about that because my sweet Lyla-Boo was going to be running it with me.

We also had our friends Wanda and Kelly (who was able to attain a bib at the last minute) with us.

 Since we live so close to the Balloon Festival, we just walked to the starting line.  While we walked there, we just let Lyla talk our ears off.  She was very excited for her race and was FULL of energy.  😃
     There was a good crowd and lots of good energy.  I feel like last year's race was more crowded and harder to maneuver through.  It could've been because I was so focused on my time.  This year I just wanted to enjoy it with my daughter and friends.  The race began at 7:30 am.  We were off!  I let Lyla set our pace.  We laughed because she would run for a little bit, then asked to walk.  That would last for 5-10 seconds and then she was off again.  Instead of the Jeff Galloway training plan, we had the "Lyla-Boo Training Plan".
     As we rounded the corner of Spring Creek and Jupiter, we knew that we were going to have some cheerleaders waiting for us.  My oldest daughter, Mia, and our friend Jenna were there cheering for us as we ran by.  The course took us to Los Rios where we turned right.  That's where we hit the water stop.  A little past that was the entrance to Oak Point Preserve.  We turned into that, ran a little bit and then made a u-turn back to the way we came.  We got to hit up the water stop once more and then we were well on our way to the finish.
     I enjoyed this race so much more this year.  The weather was perfect for balloon lift offs and we got to see so many balloons in the air during our run.

 There were so many families running with their kids.  It was fun to run this race with my daughter and my friends.  Wanda and Kelly were so sweet to stay with us and follow however Lyla led us.  Not only are these ladies my running friends, but they are my Disney friends.  I am so grateful for them and their encouragement.
  Check out our medal!  It is so pretty!

The Plano Balloon Festival did a great job!  I can't wait to earn two more tomorrow for doing the Sky High Challenge.  You get the Sky High Challenge for running the 5K and the Half.  This is the first year that they are doing it and I'm super excited!  More bling?  Yes please!  😄

Check out my interview with Lyla about her thoughts on her second 5K.  Look out for my recap on the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon coming soon.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Our Epic Summer Road Trip, Part 1

     One of the MANY things that I love about being a teacher and working a gazillion hours during the school year is SUMMER!!  I was especially ready for this summer.  This mama was exhausted and ready to redeem some much needed time with my girls.  We decided to do an Epic Summer Road Trip this summer.  We ended up being home only two weeks out of the summer.  We had a small "prelude" of a road trip to Tennessee in early June.  We got to visit with a group of ladies that have become very precious to me over the past two years and then stay with some very dear friends in Nashville for many days.  We then came home and got ready for THE road trip.  We left Texas June 24th and we didn't come home until August 1st.  This summer, I wanted to start and end our road trip at our Happy Place.  You guessed it...Disney World!  First, we made a stop in Tampa/St. Pete to visit family and friends.  I always love going back to Tampa and catching up with my friends and family that know me better than anyone and still love me!  😘  We had a pretty packed schedule, but we still made time for the beach.


     We left Tampa/St. Pete on June 29th to head to Disney.  At first, our plan was just to head over to our resort in the late afternoon and just take our time.  As we got closer to the trip, I realized that we would only be 2 hours away from Disney.  Pandora had just opened earlier in the summer at the end of May.  We could just get up early and head over to get to the park at opening time.  That's what we did!  We got to Animal Kingdom at around 7:am.  The parked opened at 8:am that day.  We were able to get in line for Pandora and were headed to the Flight of Passage at 7:43am.  Woo-hoo!  Pandora was BEAUTIFUL!  Flight of Passage is also probably one of my favorite rides now.

This is always one of my favorite sights to see!

The attention to detail in Pandora was amazing!

Pandora is beautiful!

Breakfast of champs for Ann & Rapunzel (forgot to change my name for the first one).

One of my favorite places to eat, Flame Tree BBQ!!!  AND it was on Mickey!!

     We spent the morning until after lunch at Animal Kingdom seeing the sites and riding rides.  After lunch, we headed to our resort to check in and use our first snack credit!!  For this part of the trip, we used my DVC (Disney Vacation Club) points to stay at my home resort, Old Key West.  We also did the Dining Plan.  I wanted everything paid for in advance so that I didn't have to worry about anything.  For this part of the trip, our friend, Meredith came back with us.  You have to take advantage of having an Annual Pass, right?  I stayed at OKW for the first time this past February for the Princess Half Marathon and loved it there.  After staying there twice this summer, it's now become one of my favorites.  You'll see why.  

We love Mickey Ice Cream Bars!

     We had our first dinner reservation that night at Olivia's Cafe right there at OKW.  Dinner was delicious!  We loved our waiter, who is also a full time teacher.  I don't know how he does it.  My Lyla-Boo turned 7 at the beginning of June, so this part of the trip was dedicated to her birthday.  At Olivia's, our waiter rang the bell and had the WHOLE restaurant sing Happy Birthday to her!  It was so fun!!

Dinner at Olivia's Cafe

The Bread Pudding was amazing!

The girls LOVED the make your own Sundaes.

     Friday was the day that we specifically set aside for Lyla-Boo's birthday.  She got to pick the park we went to that day, the rides we rode and where we ate dinner that night.  She chose Epcot and wanted to ride Soarin', Frozen, Finding Nemo, and Spaceship Earth (Test Track didn't come until the end of our summer).  Her dinner choice was Be Our Guest.

The Birthday Girl!

The Bubble Gum Wall!

A trip to Epcot is not complete without a Cronut (Croissant Donut)!  These are my fave!

A rainy day at Disney is better than no day at Disney!

Lyla-Boo's Birthday Dinner!

So delicious!

     After dinner, we hung out in Magic Kingdom for a little bit and caught up with my bestie and her family.

At last I see the light!

     The next day, we headed back to Magic Kingdom.  If you have never taken a ride on the Main Street Trolley or one of the Main Street vehicles, I highly recommend it!  Our first time was Spring Break of 2015.  We loved it!  It's so magical  This was Meredith's first time!

Make sure to catch the Main Street Show!

     That afternoon, we had lunch ressies at the Grand Floridian Cafe.  This was our first time there.  It was delicious!

Somebody chose breakfast for lunch.

My dessert.  YUM!

The next day we headed back to Epcot with my bestie and a breakfast reservation at Garden Grill.  Our bus was running super late from our resort, so they gave us a free fast pass to use at Epcot.  This was our first time to experience breakfast at Garden Grill.  It was delicious!  This cinnamon roll was to die for!!!  I almost forgot to take a picture of the rest of our breakfast.  It was the standard family style breakfast.  It was yummy though.  I'm pretty sure that Lyla-Boo also got her birthday cupcake to end the meal.  😋

This was one of my favorite pictures from the week.

Minnie loved that we were matching.  

Later that afternoon we hung out at our resort and enjoyed some pool time.  We had a special visitor stop by our resort!  This was the first time that I had seen a character at one of the resorts other than the character meals.  Apparently this is something special that the deluxe and DVC resorts do for their guests and members.  I'm not sure if they advertise it or it gets out by word of mouth, but I heard one of the Cast Members informing a non OKW Resort guest in line that this was something that was for the guests staying at our resort.  They still let them meet Mickey though.  😄

There were a couple of afternoons where we had rain storms and they had to shut down the pools because of the lightning.  I noticed that every time this happened at a Deluxe/DVC resort, the fabulous Cast Members were ready and willing to entertain the children.  Lyla-Boo tried her hand at Jenga and Mia tried her hand at the hoola hoop one rainy afternoon.

     On Monday morning, we went back to Animal Kingdom and rode the Flight of Passage and the Navi River Journey in Pandora (again).  We couldn't get enough.  😄

Lyla was singing his song the whole trip.

Breakfast at the Satu'li Canteen.  The French Toast was yummy!

Breakfast in a steamed "pod".  I heard it was alright.

Finding Nemo the Musical

Lunch back at the Satu'li Canteen.  Super Yummy!

The Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse was SO good!

July 3rd at the Magic Kingdom.

Watching fireworks from a balcony at the Contemporary Resort.

On July 3rd, we had dinner reservations at the Wave which is at the Contemporary Resort.  This was probably my least favorite experience of all of my dining experiences at Disney.  They wouldn't combine my best friend and my reservation to sit together.  That's fine, except that when we were finally seated, there were tons of empty tables all around both of us (she was on one side of the restaurant and I was on the other).  We would've been happy just sitting at the table next to each other.  All we could do was wave at each other across the restaurant.  😞   The service took forever too.  We almost missed the fireworks even though we should have had plenty of time.  The food was just okay too.  We had been hoping to watch the 4th of July Fireworks at Magic Kingdom, but we ended up watching them from the balcony at the Contemporary Resort.  Beware of the monorail track blocking your view.  It was still amazing.
     The next day we headed to Hollywood Studios and got to show off my Rey Ears by Ears by Ray and our Star Wars shirts by my sweet friend Ashley (Vinyls With Character).  Both ladies have shops on Etsy.  Check them out!

Disney friends are the BEST!  Love this lady right here!

When I had booked our dates, I did not realize that the 4th of July was a big deal at Old Key West.  Members line up at the pool way before it opens in the morning.  They have a parade around the resort with decorated golf carts and then they had a special visit from Minnie in her finest 4th of July attire.  They had all sorts of fun activities planned for the members.  I have learned my lesson.  The next time that we stay here over the 4th of July, we will plan a resort day for the 4th.

On the evening of the 4th, we had dinner reservations at one of my FAVORITE places, "Ohana.  You'll find 'Ohana at the Polynesian Resort.  They have a delicious family style breakfast with Lilo, Stitch and friends.  For dinner, there are no characters, but the family style, all you can eat food is SO good!!!  I always leave there SO full.  Be sure to try their bread pudding!  All I can say is "Oh My Goodness!"  The one pictured below was all mine, since my friend is gluten and dairy free and my girls had cupcakes.  SO GOOD!!  After dinner, we headed to the beach at the Polynesian Resort.  That was an awesome way to watch the fireworks.  They incorporated the boats that they use in the Electric Water Pageant.

Lyla and I couldn't get enough of the noodles and pot stickers.

July 5th was breakfast at Chef Mickey's.  Seriously, so much food and it was all so good!!!  I love breakfast though.  We then spent the day at Magic Kingdom.  We hadn't seen the parade yet, so we hung out until after the 3:pm parade.  I don't have a picture of it, but Rapunzel LOVED my Mickey Ears.😃  My favorite places to watch the parade are either by City Hall or in Frontier Land.  We then took the night off and took the ferry from our resort to Disney Springs to try out Blaze Pizza.  That place was super yummy!  After that, more swimming at our resort.

Caught this guy just roaming Frontier Land.  Oh look...Dole Whip!

On our last day there, we had a long drive to continue on more of our Epic Summer Road Trip, so we had one more breakfast booked at Olivia's Cafe (thanks to a great Cast Member).  After breakfast we hit the road.  Our adventure was continuing, but don't you worry Disney, we were coming back!

One last birthday celebration for Lyla-Boo.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our Epic Summer Road Trip.  Until then, we'll be prepping for our next few races.