Disney Fantasy Cruise 2016: Day 1

Hey friends! So two weeks later I finally recapped the runDisney marathon weekend expo, race, blogger meet up, interviews, and marathon weekends at Bonnet Creek. Whew! So much to say for just being in town for 24 hours! Anyway, it’s time to move on to something fun, the cruise! I plan to only post a couple of these a week until I’m done so they won’t be back to back to back or anything. But let’s start with after the race on Saturday:

We got a ride back to our hotel from a friend, we quickly showered and checked out, and our car was waiting downstairs. We had a private transfer scheduled from Southern Elegance. They do an amazing job, are on time, handle your bags for you, and everything. it’s top notch and our favorite way to get to the port. We were SO exhausted from the race plus our 2.5 hours of sleep that as soon as we started for the port, we CRASHED in the back seat. I woke up about ten minutes from the port, so it was great to get a little power nap in before getting on the ship! We got out bags to the porters, got through security, and waited in line to get checked in. It was 12:30 and I decided I really like checking in at this time of day. There was no waiting for your number to be called or anything, we just walked right on at about 12:45, which was amazing.

Our name was called as we boarded the boat and the crew clapped and cheered for us. I was so ready to start a fun week of relaxing and cruising! The first thing we did was head to get our dining assignment changed to early dinner, and snag a Palo brunch reservation. Once that was handled, it was time to eat! Up to Cabanas buffet we went. After lunch, the rooms were ready so we went to put our stuff down and check it out.

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We had a great aft location on deck nine, and I would totally get this location again. We were two flight down from the pool deck and buffet, and I much preferred the aft elevators because they weren’t as busy as mid ship.

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We spent some time wandering around taking pictures and enjoying the ship before the muster drill. We had been SO go go go the past 24 hours, that it was nice to just finally sit and relax.

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Oh, I forgot to mention that this was a special cruise. It was the first of the Star Wars day at sea cruises, but more on that later.

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After the muster drill, we got ready for our 5:45 dinner rotation. For those not familiar with Disney cruising, they do this cool things called rotational dining. There are three main dining rooms you rotate between, and your servers stay with you the whole cruise so you can get to know each other. it’s really great, so we were excited to meet our servers and table mates!

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I will admit, I was a little nervous about meeting our table mates, It’s totally luck of the draw, and on previous cruises we would do the late seating to get a table by ourselves. However, since we are now old and go to bed early (haha) we wanted early dinner which meant sharing a table. I have heard some people have amazing experiences and some not so much, so we went for it, and ended up making new friends!

We ate at Royal Court that night, and I had TWO desserts. I deserved it right? I did run a half marathon that morning…

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Usually we go to the adult clubs for a really fun game show that they have the first night, but I was SO exhausted that I fell asleep at 8:00. EIGHT YALL! I ended up sleeping for twelve hours. I guess my body really needed it!

Up next time: Our first sea day.

QOTD: Mickey bar or Mickey ice cream sandwich? Have you ever been on a Disney cruise?

Don’t forget, as a Disney travel planner, I can book your cruise for you at no extra charge! Email heather@travelwiththemagic.com for details

Disney Magic Photos

I have really been missing cruising lately, and as I was going through some photos on my computer earlier this week, I came across these from when I sailed on the Disney Magic right after it was refurbished a couple of years ago. Disney went to great lengths to update this ship, and while it is still lacking in some areas, it looks much better than it did before.

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One thing I love about the Magic is how cozy it feels. Bigger isn’t always better!

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Now that I have a little one, I have been paying more attention to photos of kid areas.

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Yes, I went down the slinky dog slide!

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Superhero fun anyone?

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I did NOT go on the new waterslide!

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Disney made the rooms all look like the staterooms on the Dream and the Fantasy.

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Something a lot of people didn’t notice was that Disney added shaded areas over some of the pool chairs. Definitely needed!

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Also don’t forget there is an all new restaurant that took the place of Parrot Cay.

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Who is ready to sail on the Magic? Have you been on this ship, or any of the Disney cruise line ships? Which is your favorite? I would love to book your trip for you, it doesn’t cost you anything extra! heather@travelwiththemagic.com

QOTD: What is your favorite cruise line or port that you have stopped in?

What’s On Your Tree?

When I visit someone’s house during Christmastime, I like to spend some time looking at the ornaments on their tree. Not only do I find them beautiful and fun, but I think you can find out a lot about a family by looking at their tree. I look at it kind of like a scrapbook of sorts, and think that Christmas trees have so much personality! Let’s take a look at what I am talking about.

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Here are a few of the categories of ornaments you can typically find:

Hobbies: A lot of people have ornaments that tell you about what they like to do. For instance, my dad has a couple of golf ornaments, and at my house, you will find a volleyball ornament and running ornament.

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Favorite things: Just like different hobbies, everyone has their favorites. Movies, sports, teams, animated characters, sayings, and colors. Bobby has a Gandalf ornament on our tree, and I have a New Orleans Saints Superbowl one. Also, anyone who looked at my tree would know that I am a fan of McAlisters, especially their sweet tea. You may also find a few Disney princesses chilling on my tree.

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Occupation: Ornaments may also give you a hint as to a persons occupation.Fun fact some of you newer readers may not know, but I used to teach 5th grade!

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Handmade/Kid ornaments: Whether you have children in your house or are just sentimental, you probably have a few very old handmade ornaments hanging on your tree (ok, some of them may have been pushed to the back). The two below are ornaments that I made in grade school but can’t seem to part with. besides, who HASN’T made a clothespin reindeer?!?

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Places Visited: Another favorite category is places visited. I know a lot of people (myself included) that like to collect ornaments whenever they go on vacation or visit a new place. I think these are a great reminder of the fun vacations I have had, and bring back some of my favorite memories. I have several Disney resort ornaments, but the Polynesian and Grand Floridian are my favorites, along with my Disney Cruise Line and Disneyland ornament.

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Favorite Memories: Following along the same thread as vacation/places visited, a special milestone such as a wedding or gradation always make great ornaments. Some of my favorites are ones that we purchased after running races. For instance, below you will see the ornament I bought after we completed the Inaugural Dumb Double Dare in Disneyland.

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As much as I love all of my ornaments, this last one means the most. If it wasn’t for Jesus’ birthday, we wouldn’t even be celebrating at all HE is the reason for the season, so amongst all your shopping, wrapping, eating and baking, don’t leave him out. Happy Birthday Jesus!

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QOTD: If I looked at your tree, what would it tell me about you?

Castaway Cay Challenge

Have you heard the news? There is a NEW Castaway Cay 5k challenge coming to the Disney Dream when you sail on the January 12th sailing right after marathon weekend 2015!

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Check out the press release below for details:

Runners taking part in the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend can add the ultimate finish to their experience – the new Disney Castaway Cay Challenge, a joint venture by runDisney and Disney Cruise Line.

After competing in the 5K, 10K, half marathon and/or full marathon during the Disney Marathon Weekend (January 7-11), runners can compete Jan. 14 in the Disney Castaway Cay Challenge, a special 5K race on Disney Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private Bahamas island. Every runner who finishes this new runDisney Challenge event will earn two medals – an inaugural Disney Castaway Cay Challenge medal and a Castaway Cay 5K medallion, plus any medals earned for running any Disney Marathon Weekend events (5K, 10K, half marathon or full marathon).

The Castaway Cay Challenge takes place during the 4-night Disney Dream cruise itinerary that sets sail Jan. 12, 2015 from Port Canaveral, Florida and includes a stop in Nassau in addition to Castaway Cay. The cruise will feature exclusive activities designed for Castaway Cay Challenge participants, plus special menu items and merchandise.

To sign up for the Castaway Cay Challenge, runners must book the Jan. 12, 2015 Disney Dream cruise at www.disneycruise.com and then register for the Castaway Cay Challenge at www.runDisney.com. Race registration opens May 23.

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My thoughts: WAY awesome, as I have wanted runDisney to get involved with Disney Cruise Line for years, and I already love the Castaway Cay 5k. However, I do wish they would have announced sooner, because now the only thing you can sign up for during marathon weekend if you now decide to do this is Goofy’s Challenge.

A cruise is a GREAT way to relax and unwind after marathon weekend if you can swing the time off work and the cost. The Disney Cruise Line has quickly become my favorite way to vacation, and Castaway Cay is my favorite place on earth!

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You can see some of my Castaway Cay 5k posts below:

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My original post from before they made all the changes is HERE.

QOTD: What are your thoughts on this challenge? Is it something you would be interested in doing?

5 Thoughts

Ah, weekends, you go by so quickly. How is it Monday already? We had rain and thunderstorms/flash flooding all day Friday, and part of Saturday. Saturday afternoon and Sunday were both beautiful though! As I went through the weekend, I decided for today I just wanted to share a few things that have been on my mind:

1.) I have yet to see Divergent. is it good? I loved the book!

2.) You may have noticed I didn’t write a blog post about the SELF Magazine/Tutu controversy.

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I did post a few things on Instagram and Facebook, but I feel like everyone has already said great things, and if you have read my blog for awhile you already know how I feel about tutus! It did remind me of this video I was in for the Orlando Sentinel, and how funny that I was pregnant here but wouldn’t know for a few more days!

3.) Disney cruise like itineraries came out for more of 2015, and it has really made me itch to go on a cruise again. Obviously it will be awhile, but I have realized they really are my favorite form of vacation, and I enjoy Disney cruises more than Walt Disney World *gasp!* I can give you a quote for your family! (Free for me to do all the work!) heather@travelwiththemagic.com

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4.) Any other pregnant ladies out there (or mamas) had your fingernails grow LIKE CRAZY when you were pregnant? I swear I have to cut them every few days just so I can type. They are nice and strong and pretty but not very practical for my job.

QOTD: Thoughts on any of these? Have you seen Divergent?

*Don’t forget to enter my Tune Belt giveaway!

 

Back to Back Cruising

I have had several people ask me how this Disney Cruise Line “back to back” cruising works. It’s a neat concept, and has it’s perks and downfalls.

First, let me explain. We went on two separate Disney cruises recently: a 4 night Bahamian sailing and a 3 night Bahamian sailing, back to back. Why do this instead of just a straight seven night cruise? For us, adding the 3 night was a last minute decision as we had already booked the 4 night with friends. Another perk for us was two stops at Disney’s private island: Castaway Cay. We love it there, and each sailing made a stop so we got two full days in our favorite place.

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Also, once you sail on a Disney cruise you become a member of what is called the Castaway Club. If you have completed 1-5 cruises you are a silver member, 6-10 is gold, and then platinum. Each level has different perks like gifts in your room, different booking windows for bookings excursions, and platinum cruisers even get a free meal at the adults only restaurant Palo, as well as the ability to board the ship with boarding group one. So, for us, doing two cruises instead of one “counted” twice and my next cruise, I will be platinum.

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It’s also fun to get on the boat before everyone else and get to your room first on the second cruise. Let me explain how it worked. The last night of our first cruise (the four night cruise) we had a letter in our room explaining the process. If you are staying in the same room, you can leave you luggage etc. in your room, and debark the ship by 9:15. If you are changing rooms (like us) just pack up, leave everything in the room, and the stateroom host will bring your bags to your new room for you. perfect!

The next morning we ate breakfast and were in no hurry to get off the ship. We actually stayed on closer to 10:00 because people were still getting off. We relaxed in the adults only coffee shop checking emails and doing work while we had a day in port (another perk to a back to back, ability to get on the internet halfway through your trip).

We got off, breezed through customs, then turned and went right back up the escalators to check in. The port wasn’t even open yet, so it was empty. We checked in and were given a special green ticket, and were told to go sit in the concierge/closed off area in the back of the terminal.

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We sat there just hanging out until 10:45, when a cast member led us through a side door to get back onto the ship. (to the right of the Mickey ears is the closed off area we sat in while waiting to board).

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It was weird being on the ship early (boarding usually starts around 11:45ish) because people were still cleaning and scurrying about getting things ready. The next perk was a big one, getting to our rooms early. The letter that was left on our bed started that our stateroom would be a top priority to get cleaned, and it would be ready by 11:30. FYI, for everyone else that gets on board, you can’t access your room until 1:30. We were able to get into ours just before 11:00, and our luggage was already in there, it was awesome.

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We unpacked, called our families, and hung out in the room until the lunch buffet opened at 11:45, and we were among the first to eat, and we simply went back to our room after, changed, and went to the pool. Normally we have to lug our day bags around, change in the public bathroom, etc. So this was a very nice perk.

Another fun thing was Disney kept us with our same dining room team, so it was nice to have familiar faces at dinner, it made it seem like a 7 night cruise.

We enjoyed experiencing the back to back, but I don’t know if we will make it a habit of sailing on them. One downfall is they only go to Nassau and castaway cay, so if you are looking to go to other ports this may not be for you. However, we use Nassau day to stay on a near empty ship anyway, so we didn’t mind. You lose a few hours on the day you get off and back on, having to get off then wait to get back on etc., but other than that we enjoyed ourselves!

If you have any questions about the process please let me know!

QOTD: Would you ever consider a back to back cruise?

Disney Cruise Recap 12/13

Hello! I am officially back home. I made it back late morning yesterday, and I have been playing catch up with work since then. I cannot believe Christmas eve is in a week, I feel so unprepared (my Christmas tree has NO GIFTS under it. I am so behind y’all). Anyway, we had a fabulous time on the cruise, and I plan to recap the Castaway Cay 5k (again) because I took some video this time. But for today, I wanted to share what we did the OTHER days of our cruise.

We did what is called a “back to back” which means we did a four night ailing followed by a three night sailing on the same ship. There is a certain procedure that you follow in order to do this which I will also be sharing about. So we were on the Disney Dream for a total of seven nights. We went to Nassau twice and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, twice.

We drove to Disney on Saturday and stayed with Jen and Jeff at Port Orleans Riverside in a royal room.

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We took the boat to Downtown Disney for dinner at Earl of Sandwich.

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The next day we drove to Port Canaveral and boarded the Dream. The ship looked gorgeous all dressed up for Christmas.

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We had lunch then went to check our our verandah stateroom. (Category 5C is anyone is curious)

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We then did some walking around and lounged at the pool until time for early dinner.

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A Mickey Bar was my dessert of choice most nights.

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After dinner Bobby and I went to one of the adult only areas to watch the Saints play on Sunday night football. (There was a HUGE screen to the right of this photo and we sat in recliners right in front of it. Aaahhh, bliss).

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The next day was a sea day and we went to the gym then had Palo Brunch reservations which was amazing as always. My favorite part: dessert.

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Bobby and I attended a special reception for gold and platinum castaway club members that afternoon. Free champagne? Of course I’m there! We got to hear from the captain which was neat.

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At dinner we may have all been craving cheese sticks…

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The next day in Nassau, the Disney Magic parked next to us. It was neat to see the ships side by side again and get some photos. A couple years ago I was on the MAGIC when we were next to the Dream. This time it was reversed!

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We didn’t get off in Nassau. it rained, so we just read books up on deck and took a nap.

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I love these guys

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The next day we were at Castaway Cay, and we ran the 5k.

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We had a great day on the island relaxing and also playing volleyball.

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We had Palo dinner that night which was amazing, even though poor Bobby had a migraine. Luckily, with a special concoction from the Palo Maître d’, he started feeling better. Even though said concoction was disgusting.

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The next day we had to get off the ship and say goodbye to our friends. Then, we got back on board shorty after.

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Our new room was a deluxe family verandah stateroom, a category 4B.

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We went to the hot tub, and honestly I don’t remember what else! We had late dining this time, so we got to see the sun set before dinner.

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Our cute dinner table

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The next day was Nassau day again, so we hung out at the pool, rode the AquaDuck waterslide, and took a 2.5 hour nap! We had dinner at Palo again that night, and I had the most amazing Crème Brule martini. Seriously. Order it. (The the way we had the same server for both Palo dinners and the brunch and he was amazing. his name is Matt he is from Poland. be sure to request him!)

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These two goofballs were eating at Palo that night as well and came and found us.293

Katherine, Amanda, and me.

The next day we were back at my beloved Castaway Cay for another day of fun in the sun. We had beautiful weather, high of maybe 80, crystal clear water, perfection.

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The next day it was a 10 hour drive to Louisiana to pick up the dogs then back to reality yesterday. We had a wonderful time, it was a great idea to give the cruise as a gift to each other, and I can’t wait to go back some day!

QOTD: Have you been on a cruise? Favorite thing about them? Favorite cruise line?

*WINNERS of the Runner’s Christmas gift guide giveaways are posted on the Rafflecopter widget. See if you won!

**If you would like me to help you plan your magical cruise on most any cruise line (at no extra cost!) email heather@travelwiththemagic.com I would love to help you!

 

My Christmas Gift

Good morning friends. I am on the move again! Bobby and I will be heading out of town tomorrow to go on a Disney cruise with our buds Jen and Jeff.

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I am SO excited, because over the past 5 years, we have tried twice to go on a cruise together. Once, I had to cancel because I got a new job, and once she had to cancel. So I can’t believe it’s finally happening!

We will be leaving Sunday on the Disney Dream for a four night cruise, then just Bobby and I will be staying on for a three night after that. Our Anniversary is January 6th, so we decided this would be our Christmas AND anniversary gift to each other (well, we are allowed to get each other one small gift just to have something under the tree).

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That’s fine with me, we love cruising and got a great rate we couldn’t pass up on the 2nd half, and a discount from rebooking onboard for the first one. I can’t wait to see our friends again, go to our favorite place on earth, Castaway Cay, and do a little unwinding before Christmas.

Don’t worry, I have been working on some posts and also have some great guest posters lined up, so things here on THLG will be business as usual. Also, when we get back into port Thursday before going out again, I will be able to check email, share photos, and catch up with the online world before going back out again.

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I will be taking tomorrow off per usual, then blogging again Sunday before we board the ship. I will be live posting Saturday and Sunday from Disney and the Dream on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. In the meantime, don’t forget about my giveaways I have going on:

Panera Bread backstory challenge and $100 gift card giveaway

Runner’s Christmas gift guide with TWO giveaways

*Winner of my Natural Bliss giveaway is Lauren Graback. Please email heatherslookingglass@gmail.com to claim your prize!

Magic Time!

Good morning! I am getting on the Disney Magic today and I can’t wait to see the newly redone ship! We are spending the night near the port in Miami.

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I’m going to go ahead and say I won’t have a post up tomorrow because I don’t think I will have internet access. I will be sure to take lots of photos to share with you all.

Some fun things are coming up soon like giveaways and trip recaps from Disney so stay tuned and have a great weekend!

QOTD: any fun weekend plans?

Pain in the Butt

Literally! Yesterday I got my first steroid shot…right in the rear! Ouch! Even for someone with quite the fleshy backside like myself, that sucker hurt! Luckily only for a few minutes.

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Shameless plug, don’t forget to enter my giveaway and order from my Thirty-One party! Make great Christmas gifts!

So, yesterday morning I still felt awful and could. not. stop. coughing. So I finally went to the doctor on day six. She isn’t 100% sure if it’s viral or an infection, so to avoid having to take antibiotics just yet I got the steroid shot and if I’m not better by Monday, antibiotics it will be. I also got some awesome cough suppressant and decongestant I am hoping will help.

I haven’t been this kind of sick in a LONG time, but it’s not surprising considering I was in Disney for a week, then, exhausted, flew to Baltimore and ran a rainy chilly half marathon then got back on a plane. Just hoping I’m well before I get BACK on a plane next week!

Did I forget to mention? I am sailing on a two night cruise with my boss next weekend! The newly re-imagined Disney Magic is going to be sailing out of Miami, and she was invited and is bringing me along to experience it. I can’t wait! I have several clients sailing on the Magic in the next year so I know they can’t wait to see pictures of all the new stuff, and I can’t wait to share it all with you.

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QOTD: Ever had a shot in the butt?