Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The end is just the beginning

3 years ago. 3 years ago I was happy. 3 years ago Chloe was still little. 3 years ago I had a lot of friends. 3 years ago I was quite content in my job. 3 years ago things were going really well in my life, for the most part.

3 years ago, running in Disney World was not even a blip on my radar.

Then I received the kick in the butt I needed (see here for the full story) from two amazing friends (yes, Tana and Stephen, that would be you). Thus, leads me to today and what is about to happen in the next week.

As most of you know, I am going to be running the Goofy Challenge in Disney World next weekend. That means running a half marathon on Saturday, January 8th, and a full marathon on Sunday, January 9th. Yep, that's why they call it "The Goofy". For me, personally, this will be one of the biggest accomplishments of my life thus far. Plus, being able to run in a place that I have spent many years of my life with my family, will be a huge bonus. Oh, and this trip will also be an adventure as there are quite a few people that I have been introduced to thanks to that website, Twitter. I am really looking forward to meeting and connecting with many of the Disney, running, and teacher's that I have connected with on there down in Disney World, next week.

Lots of people have asked me, "what is your goal for this?" My answer, "well, I have never run a half marathon and a full marathon back to back. Let's just make it through with a smile on my face." Secretly, I have my times in my head that I would like to see. However, I don't mention them as I don't want to be under any pressure. I just really want to enjoy both the runs and get through them. Plus, receive the 3 medals for the accomplishment (half marathon medal, full marathon medal, and one for doing both).

Now, why is it the end? Well, after next weekend I am going to take a year off from running full marathons. My last three summers have been spent training for the Queen City Marathon in Regina, Saskatchewan. Plus, for those three years I have been shaving half hours off of each marathon that I ran. My time goal this year was to get under a 4 hours and I beat that goal with a time of 3:56:29. I am still going to work on my half marathons and getting faster and better times there. I will aim to beat my 1:36:34 in April at the Regina Police Services Half Marathon and hopefully place further to the top in my age ranking (which is now 30-35). I will also participated in the half marathon on the Queen City in Regina next fall.

Still, there is a beginning to all of this. My hope is that over the next few months without training for a full marathon (which lots of us know takes up a significant amount of time) I will have the time discover more activities related to testing my new ambitions for physical activity. I have been toying with the opportunity to try a short triathalon, boxing, kick boxing, and many other activities that people have mentioned to me. I can't wait to see what is in store. When I return from Disney World I will have the Hypothermic Half Marathon 2011 waiting for me on February 20th (running in the -20 degrees celsius weather OR COLDER for my buddies from the USA). So, still lots on the go when it comes to keeping busy. Plus I am looking forward to spending some time with people as they are striving to reach their fitness goals! Time to start paying it forward!

For me, I can't complete this post without naming some people that have gotten me to this point in my life. These people have been there to encourage me, teach me, push me, and yes, even yell at me to keep going in reaching my goals. So, Dad, Mom, Tana, Stephen, Renee, Lonny, Derrick, Blake, Chloe, Beckie, Kevin, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, Tiffini, Cory, Stacy(thatgirl, lol), my church family, my cross country team at school, Prairie South (for approving the time off for me to go run in Disney), THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!! There is nothing else I can say!

Now, I am going to start the next section by naming all the people who believed I COULD NOT accomplish these goals over the last 3 years. They include......ok, that would be pretty mean. However, I would like to even thank them for not believing in me. Your doubt added fuel to my fire and I appreciate it very much! By the way, how is your fitness level? Have you changed at all? No? That's what I thought.

So, here we go! I will have another post after I get back to tell you about my experience. I am really looking forward to it!

Happy 2011! May it be filled with joy and finding out what you can accomplish when you put your mind and body to it. Will it take work? YEP! All you have to do is start. #getoffthecouch (Twitter people, you know that one!)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The One With a Princess Dress

Hope you enjoyed the tweets on Twitter today. Please click here for today's pics! We are off for Crystal Palace breakfast tomorrow and Magic Kingdom Dessert Party tomorrow. Stay tuned to Twitter! :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The One Where You Can Check Twitter

We got back fairly late tonight. If you need a recap of all we did today you can check out my twitter feed @mrbrettyoung and you can click here to see the pics! :)

Have a good one! Hoping to get to the Animal Kingdom in the morning!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The One With the Cinnamon Roll

The castle is green right now. Oh, now it's blue. Oh, now it's pink. Looks pretty quiet over there, right now, as it closed down at midnight.

Well, here we are again. Our first full day at Disney World in 2010 and it was definitely one to remember. Where else can you wake up with a view where you can watch all the ferries and boats come out to start their day, or watch the monorails come from the back of the Magic Kingdom to go out to the resort loop and Magic Kingdom loop to transport guests to and from their destinations. Again, feeling truly blessed to be where we are and definitely not taking it for granted! :)

Today was Beckie's birthday. She is cough cough 28 cough cough now and, of course, if you know my sister, she likes to do everything "her way" when she can get away with it. Plus, she told us yesterday, "it is my birthday, we are going to do what I want to do!" and we were ok with it! Mostly we did it because, let's face it, she wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Plus, have supper at Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. OK! We will do what you want to do. Sigh, what a hardship! ;)

We started off by getting up and heading over the Magic Kingdom for Extra Magic Hours in the morning. This is where resort guests get in early and the only lands that are open are Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. We jetted over to get FastPasses for Space Mountain (got them) and then head back to Fantasyland to do as many attractions as we could so Chloe could get her fill! Let's face it, she was ready!

These were the attractions we got through in just under and hour:

1. The Carousel (Chloe loves her horses)
2. Mickey's Philharmagic (thanks to YouTube, Chloe pretty much did a running commentary the whole time we were in there of what was going on on the screen)
3. Peter Pans flight (10 minute wait, when it could easily be 45 later on in the day)
4. Snow White (she wasn't a huge fan but liked Dopey waving at her at the end of the ride)
5. Winnie the Pooh (she really liked it)

We then started to back track towards Tomorrowland as we wanted to go get a snack at the Main Street Bakery for breakfast and on the way back Chloe asked if we could ride Buzz. So, of course, we did! I am sure you are all wondering "WHO WON?" Well,! Wow, that is hard to swallow as she is the most NON videogamer in the family (except she plays a mean game of Tetris). Of course, as you can see from the pics (link at the bottom) we always have to take a few corny/funny/"what were they thinking" types of pictures to share. We can't always be the "everyone stand together and smile" family. That's just WAY too boring!

Well, then we headed over to the Main Street Bakery at the recommendation of AJ @disneyfoodblog from DisneyFoodBlog because on her site she said that we all need to try this cinnamon roll that is one of her top snacks at the parks. THIS THING DOES NOT DISAPPOINT! The suggestion to even ask for more icing was something I don't think I could do again! THEY PILE IT ON! It was so GOOD! :) However, to make sure that I kept some sort of healthy eating, I had a bannana and an orange juice before sampling the roll!

Well, with that sitting in our stomachs we then headed over to, yes, Space Mountain (what were we thinking with that thing sitting in our stomachs?) Luckily, we handled it and got to ride on the new and improved Space Mountainn (well at least for us it was). My opinion, it ROCKS!! It is alot darker and I kind of like the fact that you can't see the ride anymore from the que line. It is just more suspenceful when you get into it the ride from the start. Just my opinion! Take it or leave it. Beckie and I were able to ride it another time because of the baby swap for Chloe so we did and then we met up with mom, dad, and Kevin as Chloe saw Buzz Lightyear meeting the kids and she wanted to meet him to. This honestly was the longest line we stood in over the course of the morning. However, Chloe got to meet her "Buzzy" and high five him.

By then it was noon and we decided to head back to the resort to unwind for the afternoon and then get ready for our supper at Ohana. The family went to the pool and I headed to the fitness center to get a short workout out in (weights and cardio) #getoffthecouch (Twitter people). The one thing I will mention is that if you use the Contemporary Resort's fitness center be prepared for a low ceiling and the feeling of being hot and muggy. It was good and I got the workout in but it just felt like a big room with no real organization. Just a pet peeve for me, but again, my two cents! :)

We then all met back up at 4:00 pm and headed over to the Polynesian for our supper at Ohana. As you, again, can see from the pics, it did not disappoint. We always have a terrific meal there and you leave FULL! Plus, If you are a meat eater, this is the THE PLACE!! My recommendations would definitely be the shrimp, the wings, and the pot stickers! Oh, and there is this bread pudding for dessert. Do yourself a favor and once they bring you one you immediately order another one (it is all you care to eat). Trust me, it is THAT good!

Now, after waddling our way out of the Polynesian cause we really couldn't walk with all that food in us, we headed over to Epcot to enjoy the Extra Magic Hours there. We started off by heading into ride Spaceship Earth and then head over and ride Journey Into Imagination (a personal favorite of Chloe's and she can sing the whole song if you want! My 3 year old niece ROCKS!).

Then it was time to head into Captain EO which just opened a few days ago. I still remember seeing this 3D movie in 1988 with my family during our trips to Epcot and tonight I got to relive it! It was very very cool to see the movie again in 3D plus the in house effects were really cool! That theater was really bouncing (I mean it, bouncing)! Definitely give it a shot if you are at Epcot over the next little while.

We then headed over to The Land and found the Soarin had a 35 minute wait time, mostly due to the fact that it was 9:00 pm and that is when Illumination starts. So we received a baby swap pass (Chloe not tall enough to ride yet) and Beckie, Kevin, Dad, and myself went through line while mom and Chloe waited out in the lobby. Now, if you have ever been through that que before, you know that it can get a little boring. So, we were getting a little tired and we started to get goofy. When we get goofy, that is when the camera comes out to capture anything that is going on. I have updated just a few of the pics we took in line. Some of them, will never see the light of day! So, if you are ever in line and see a family with a camera taking crazy pics, come on over and get a few with us! Trust me, we are all about the fun! Plus, the Cast Members were awesome that night and having a good time with the guest and each other! Love seeing that! :) Once we had our ride, mom, Kevin, and Beckie went on again while dad and I waited with Chloe.

We then headed over to The Seas to find Nemo (he keeps getting lost, poor little guy) and have a chat with that turtle named Crush (DUDE! SWEET! TOTALLY! RIGHTEOUS!). Chloe loved it and I love the fact that Crush makes jokes that are clean but that have an adult edge to them!

Well after that we all looked at each other and realised we had had a very full day and we were ready to call it a night. In fact, it is late and I actually just saw the castle lights and Main Street lights go out. Even though the lights have gone out over there, I know that the work continues. In fact, I can see the Tomorrowland Transit Authority track lit up and some Cast Members cleaning the track off with some steam cleaners. Yep, we are that close! :)

Tomorrow, well we have a plan to go to the Prime Outlets in Orlando and then to the Studios later on in the evening. Will that happen? I don't really know. We are on vacation and we will just see.

Have a good one! :)

Please click here to see today's pics

Monday, July 5, 2010

The One With a View from the Top

Well, today was our first full day here in Orlando. As of tonight, I am sitting with my feet up, looking out the window, towards the Magic Kingdom. The lights are illuminating the castle, Space Mountain is glowing, Main Street is alive with the bright lights, I can hear the puffing of the whistle on the train, and I just saw monorail blue and tiel head on by. In just a few minutes I will stop writing this post and go watching the Summer Nightastic fireworks show from our balcony. We are just trying to figure out what channel the music play through on the TV to hear it. More on this just a bit later.

This morning, we started out at the Hyatt Resort at the aiport. We had a great breakfast at their restaurant that was included in the price of our rooms. We then headed back up to the room to wait for our rental vehicle, a very Suburban that fit all of us, our bags, and some other things that I will explain later. It is a very nice SUV and we will definitely be using it throughout the trip to go in and out of WDW (mostly to go to the outlets, lol!).

We then made a trek over to the Orlando Premium Outlets for an hour and a half whirl wind shopping marathon because we wanted to hit the 4th of July sales that went into today, as well. You Americans have some amazing deals, I will admit that! No wonder most of our clothes are bought in the States! :)

Next, we headed over to Publix to stock up on groceries for our kitchen at Bay Lake Tower. We purchased breakfast items, drinks, and a few snacks. Most of it is stuff that we don't have in Canada. I even purchased my first "energy drinks" and will try them eventually (guess I had to try them at some point to see what they are all about ;) ).

Next, well, the moment Chloe (and all the rest of us) have been waiting over seven months for had arrived. We headed up the interstate and crossed through the gates of Walt Disney World property. I don't care what you say, the second you go under that sign, there is this feeling of "ahhhhhhh, I feel so much better!" As we made our way down the road Chloe pointed out the Tower of Terror, the "Big Ball", the "Swans" (Swan Hotel), the monorails, and everything that had even the slightest resemblance to Mickey Mouse.

It was then that we went "under the lake" and headed up the hill to where we caught a glimpse of the castle and to the left, well there it was, the Contemporary Resort and, right behind it, Bay Lake Tower! Never, in a million years did we ever think that we would be staying here. It was only until I received a promotional code for 40% off that we decided to give this a shot. So, it was up to the check in desk where we were greeted by Gabriella and Tobie who did a wonderful job of welcoming us "home" and getting us ready. When we made our reservations 7 months ago we did do a bit of research as to different room requests and Beckie (sister extrordinaire) and found one that caught her eye. Well, long story short, when you ask really really nicely, dreams sometimes do come true. Gabriella presented us our welcome package and low and behold the room Beckie wanted was granted to us. Beckie almost burst into tears at the front desk and she had to catch her breath. Again, as you can see from the pics, we were NOT disappointed with what we found! This place is absolutely incredible and we know that this is probably a once in a lifetime stay for us and we are going to appreciate every single moment that we can!

After admiring the view and getting unpacked, we decided to head over to the Magic Kingdom to pick up our passes and get our Table in Wonderland card (gets us discounts all over the place for meals). As I am coming back in January to run the "Goofy's Race and a Half Challange" (and hang out with some REALLY COOL PEOPLE), I got an annual pass. As we were heading back to get ready for our dinner date with Mickey at the Contemporary I did what any Annual Passholder can do; I went up to the Magic Kingdom gate, went in and walked right out again! I have christened the pass! WOO HOO! Chloe then asked if we could ride the monorail so we rode it back to the Contempoary.

It was then time to go and meet Mickey for supper and of course Chloe got to see all of her "friends" and we had a great meal. Anyone that complains about that buffet, give your head a shake! It was AWESOME! The characters were amazing and Minnie even spent over five minutes just hanging out with Chloe and flirting with her uncle (blush). Chloe has not changed in the last three years that she has been here. Everytime she sees her "friends" she flaps her arms and laughs and laughs. Tonight, was no exception and to us, it was priceless to see her smile from ear to ear! She is a Disney girl through and through.

Well with our bellys full we headed over to pick up our mugs so we can get drinks for the length of our stay. We have even thought about bringing them back on our next vacation to use again. NOW, I am so kidding when I say that as I KNOW that is against the rules. So, Twitter people, no yelling tweets at me about that! :)

We then headed back to the room and got changed to go and take advantage of an hour at the pool. That was what I was most looking forward too because it seemed like a pretty cool place to hang out. It did not disappoint and even when the skies open up and started down pouring, we just kept on swimming; unlike everyone else who bolted for the indoors. Suck it up people, it's rain! You are already in the pool! Rolling my eyes right now! :)

Now, we are back and just hanging out in the room waiting for the fireworks to start at the Magic Kingdom. We found out that the music plays out of channel 20 so we can hear the music and watch the fireworks. BACK NOW from watching the fireworks!! WOW!!! That "storm the castle" scene!! AMAZING!!! Plus, ummmmm, having the fireworks right outside our balcony....BONUS!

On the agenda tomorrow:

IT IS BECKIE'S BIRTHDAY SO PLEASE TWEET @wdwgirl1 a very happy birthday! We will be celebrating at the Magic Kingdom for the day, have swimming time, and then head over to Ohana for supper!

Again, please feel free to follow along on Twitter as I will tweet as much as I can throughout the day!

Have a good one!

Please click here to see today's pics!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The One With the WiFi on a Plane

Well, here we are! We made it "home"!! WOO HOO! We touched down at Orlando International about three hours ago and are about ready to crash in our beds at the Hyatt Resort here at the airport.

Some of you are probably saying, "huh, you mean you are still at the airport and now at WDW? What's up with that?" Well the code that gives up 40% off our suite at Bay Lake Tower does not start until tomorrow so we decided that, just for tonight, to just hang around the airport and look around and relax. When we land we are in a rush to get "on property" as fast as we can and when we return to the airport to leave, we never have a chance to look around. Tonight, we had that chance.

However, lets rewind this machine back to this morning.

We started off at home and left for Minneapolis around 10:30. The plane ride was uneventful (it always is). Chloe (niece) was an amazing little flier! She is 3 years old and this year she had her very own seat which she was thrilled to have because it meant she could look at the window and just have her own space. Those parents who dread taking their little ones on flights, sorry about your luck! :) She was incredible and just did her own thing which included playing with her toys, making up stories for us, and singing songs.

When we touched down in Minneapolis we had quite a wait at customs to get through as many planes had arrived at the exact same time we had. When I finally got up to the customs agent he looked at my passport and started looking at me very strangely. For a moment he wasn't sure if he was going to let me through. "You look nothing like this picture in your passport," he said. "Have you lost some weight since having this picture?" I then went on to explain to him that I had made some big changes in my life and I thought he was going to just throw the passport back at me and tell me to take a hike. Instead, he looked at me and said, "got any tips to help me out?" I had a good laugh and told him a few things that worked for me (running, eating better, blah blah blah). Maybe it is time to get the pic redone! :)

Anyways, we continued on and made our way to the gate for Orlando. That flight, which is three hours was gone in a flash. Why? Well, as we were sitting down, dad turns to me and points up to the area where you control the lights and air, and there, in all its BEATIFUL GLORY was a "WiFi Connection Spot" (and the angels sang HALLELUGHA!!). So, once we hit 35,000 feet I figured out how to connect my blackberry to it and for the rest of the time I talked to @tiffiniholland @coryholland (who got to meet the Rollofs today from Little People Big World....very cool!!!) @b_bmom and @bonnieg88 over BlackBerry Messenger. Thanks to them for keeping me occupied because my self diagnosed ADD was starting to kick in!! Plus there was talk about a club I wanted to join! ;) It was awesome and by the time we were done chatting the pilot came on and said, "PUT ALL THOSE THINGS AWAY CAUSE WE ARE LANDING THIS THING!!!" Well he didn't really say that, but that's what I heard! All in all, that was the best 5 bucks I have spend all trip (so far) to get that WiFi. Highly recommend!!!

As the plane dropped and dropped I started getting that "feeling" (you know that one I am talking about) when you are going back "home"! Tonight, I made my 27th landing into Orlando and I still had that feeling. Then that lovely lady that brings me cookies and water (one that was very cute, may I add) said "Welcome to Orlando" and the biggest smile came on Chloe's face, and mine too.

We then went and got the bags, checked into our rooms for the night and went to get something to eat. Well of course, on the way to get something to eat, we passed by the Disney Store in the airport terminal and Chloe just had to go in. Yeah, it was Chloe that wanted to go in....not her mom, dad, grandma, grandpa....or....her...uncle.....yeah! ;) Anyways, she made her first (but certainly not last) purchase of the trip as she picked up a Tinkerbell stuffy and is sleeping with it now in her bed.

Also, as you will see from the pics (link at the bottom of this entry, where they will always be) we also went into that "other" store and I picked up a chocolate frog and a bar of Hunnydukes chocolate to try (all tied in with the Wonderful World of Harry Potter at Universal....maybe you have heard of it). I would highly recommend the Hunnydukes chocolate bar that tasted like hot chocolate but the chocolate frog was BLAH!!!!! Plus, it was 10 bucks. All it was was a hunk of cheap chocoloate shaped like a frog. SAVE YOUR MONEY PEOPLE!!! I threw it out! BLAH!

Well, when we returned to the room I went out onto the balcony and the skies were lit up with fireworks from all over Orlando. We could see fireworks from downtown Orlando, Magic Kingom, Epcot, and Universal Studios. They were all going at the same time. It was absolutely incredible to see.

Now, we are all getting ready for "night nights". Chloe has given us all hugs and kisses and we are ready to finally get this show on the road as we check into Bay Lake Tower and hit Disney World full force tomorrow. On the agenda tomorrow we have the following:

1. Go to the outlets for an hour (if we can, Beckie has coupons she wants to use at Coach) plus I have a Lacoste fetish so I will probably stop there
2. Go to Publix for groceries
3. Check into Bay Lake Tower
4. Get our passes for WDW
5. Get our Tablel In Wonderland card for dad
6. Have Supper at Chef Mickeys
7. Hopefully have a nice relaxing evening at the resort because we want to see all of it. Plus, maybe get in a swim before the end of the day

We will see how this all plays out tomorrow. All I know is that we are finally HERE!!! It is awesome!!!

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter @mrbrettyoung as I am updating constantly with what we are doing.

Have a good one!

Click here to see today's pics.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The One With the Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well with the chime of the midnight bell that means that the 4th of July is here. Happy Independence Day to my buddies down in The States. Also, that means WE ARE OUT OF HERE!!! Leaving in a few hours for the airport. Walt Disney World Here we come! That's all I need to say! Hopefully will have internet access tomorrow night o clue you in on what happened to us throughout the course of our travel day.

Have a good one! I know we will! :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

The One With the PreTrip Report

As an avid "Friends" fan, I decided that I would give my blog posts titles for our upcoming trip using "The one with..." flare. Kind of cheezy, I know, but guess what? It's my blog, I can do what I want, so there! :)

Well here we are! I just received my reminder email from Disney World telling me that I have a trip coming up next week. It made me feel so special and filled with warm fuzzies all over! BLAH! Seriously, what a waste of an email? Did they need to send me a reminder that I have trip coming up when really it has been in the planning stages for over seven months. Better yet, do they know it has been planned since we walked out of the Magic Kingdom on the final night of our trip, last year? Do they know the hours of "reminding ourselves" of our upcoming trip by spending time on Allears, WDWMagic, DisBoards, and DisneyFoodBlog (AJ YOU ROCK! @disneyfoodblog)? Do they know how many of my tweets, on Twitter, have been focused on asking questions to my other "Disney Experts" that I am following? Yeah, thanks Disney for sending me that reminder email. I COMPLETELY FORGOT I had a trip coming up! (dipped in sarcasm, can you taste it?)

With that, I will admit, that I am really excited to get back "home" and live the Disney life for 13 days! If you know us, you know that my family and I breathe Disney 24/7. In our city of 35,000 people, if anyone mentions that they are going on a trip to Disney World, the usual response is "Oh, have you talked to the Young's? They pretty much live down there." However, most of the time we can sniff out whether or not someone is taking a WDW trip, we hunt them down, tie them up (kidding) and give them advice whether they ask for it or not. Most of the time it consists of saying to them, "have you looked at these websites (listed above)? Do you have THIS BOOK? You must have this book. Yes, FastPass is a good thing. Stay on property, you won't regret it, Here's why.... Would you just like me to go with you and tour you around?"

If you have read my past posts on this blog, you know that Disney World has been a huge part of our lives for over 26 trips (this will be number 27). I am not telling you this to brag, I am just telling you how it is! :) Now, I am not one of those people who live in Orlando (or a few hours from it) and can visit all the time. I am a PROUD Canadian and get my WDW fix once a year (twice this year, more on that in January....GO GOOFY CHALLENGE! WOO HOO!). So, while I am down there, you better believe that I am going to make it count and enjoy it! So, for all of you that I follow on Twitter, and you go to the parks all the time; I like you a whole lot, and I always enjoy your tweets from the park, but get out of my way! The Canadians are invading for 13 days! You can go and play in that Wizard Potter World, Harry Magicland, Potter Place of Magic, or whatever you call it. It's our time now! (I know it's called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, just trying to be dramatic!)

Now for the good stuff. Introductions need to be made so that you know who is going to be on this trip and get to know them. Maybe you will have a fan favourite in our family that you can win a Skype conversation with sometime. Now that would be creepy! Here we are. You can take us or leave us but we are just a typical "Disney Obsessed" family:

Me: Brett, 30 years old, single (yes ladies, single...single...SINGLE, lol). I am a high school teacher, marathon runner, obsessed with fitness (see previous posts below) and tech toys. Favourite rides: Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Rockin Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest, and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (that's right, I could be on it for hours, weeeee!). I am @mrbrettyoung on Twitter.

Dad: 50 something, funeral director, and the one who made his family "Disney Nerds" from an early age. Favourite rides: Any bench on Disney property or an attraction which has a theatre to sit down in.

Mom: 30 something (love you mom! note the age!), and works at local bank. Favorite rides: Splash Mountain, Rockin Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest. My mom is a thrill ride fanatic! SHE ROCKS!

Sister: Beckie, 27 (will be celebrating her 28th birthday in WDW this trip), elementary school teacher. Just ran her first half marathon a few months ago (WOO HOO!). She is our planner. She reads trip reports constantly. She will tell you off when she thinks you are wrong about something Disney related. She is also @wdwgirl1 on Twitter. She will tweet while we are there. Follower her.

Brother-In-Law: Kevin, 29 (will be celebrating his 30th birthday in WDW this trip), continuing care assistant. Married Beckie so we know he is a brave man! :) Favourite Rides: Muppets 3D, Dinosaur, Splash Mountain, and Haunted Mansion. He is also @brerkevin on Twitter.

Niece: Chloe, 3 years old, Mickey Mouse obsessed since day one (she had no hope with our family not to be). Sure to be a fan favourite as she is our little firecracker who has been to WDW two times in her life (this being her third trip). Favourite rides: Mickey's Philharmagic, Grande Fiesta Tour (aka to her "Donald Duck Boat Ride"), Dumbo, Expedition Everest (aka to her "The Yeti Ride"). Yes, we know she can't go on the last one, but it is her pick for favourite YouTube video. She loves her princesses and she loves her pirates!

Well that's us in a nutshell. Who will you pick as fan favourite remains to be seen. Guess we will see as the trip moves forward.

Since we have been quite a few times we definitely don't feel the need to throw ourselves into the madness that can be WDW during some of the summer months. Over the last few years we have definitely started to learn the art of relaxing. We don't feel compelled to wake up at 6:30 in the morning, pack everything up and get to the parks before rope drop. However, I admire those families that do (we used to do it too). This trip is definitely going to be about relaxing and just doing things as they come. Do we have plans for what we want to do? Yep! If they change, so what? We are just going to enjoy it as they come. For some of you out there, I know I just made you cringe with the "they-don't-have-a-plan-to-do-everything" look and you are shaking your head! Come on, you know it's true!

However, there is definitely a few things that we are excited to experience this summer:

1. Summer Nightastic: new fireworks at Magic Kingdom, Tower of Terror added effects, Main Street Electrical Parade, etc.

2. Captain EO: Saw it back in the 80s (still have my stuffed Fuzzball and Hooter plushes from back then) and can't wait to see it again!

3. Staying at Bay Lake Tower: The last time we were there, they were just putting the finishing touches on it. As we aren't Disney Vacation Club owners we never thought we would get a chance to stay there. However, a little 40% off code in an email about seven months ago changed all that and we are really excited to give this resort a shot. Plus, being only a short walk from the Magic Kingdom is a huge plus!

4. RELAXING: Like I stated before, we have done WDW for years, we want to relax! All of us work and we want to just enjoy the surroundings for a chunk of our time down there. For me personally, I do a lot of training all year for different races and this is the 13 days, out of the year, where my body gets a well deserved break. For those of you that follow me on Twitter you know when I put my #getoffthecouch tag it means that I'm off doing something somewhere. Will I still be getting in some workouts? YEP! But, I will remember, this is a vacation! :) Have a marathon in September to get ready for with some specific goals so will definitely be hitting it hard when we get home! So, yes Cory, I will be getting my workouts in while I am there.

Oh, of course, I almost forgot. I know how important this can be for some people and I KNOW I will be asked this question, "Hey Brett, where ya eatin at, man?" Well here are the big ones:

-Le Cellier
-Cape May Cafe
-Crystal Palace
-Whispering Canyon
-Magic Kingdom Dessert Party

Also, because I know that there are some of you who need a daily WDW fix everyday and need a mini vacation (as we all do) throughout the day, I will be doing daily updates to this blog (mostly in the evening) with daily pictures updated to my online albums, for you to see. I will also be posting to my twitter account (@mrbrettyoung) as much as I can. Because we are Canadian, and I don't feel like paying a billion dollars for my phone bill, I have to turn the data plan off on my blackberry while in the USA. I can text my tweets to Twitter and you can see them. However, If you reply back to me, I will NOT see them until I am on a computer. The only way you can ask me something directly is to Direct Message me and it will come through my phone as a text. We will have internet in the room so feel free to leave a message and I can tweet you back later! :) Tiff, you and Cory know what to do! ;) lol!

If you would like to look at a few pictures from over the last few years of our trips you can check out here and here. It is just a taste of what you are in for! :) Plus, you never know when there may be some "Oh good grief, look at what Brett is doing now. CHILDREN SHUT YOUR EYES! THE HORROR!" Just kidding! I will keep it G rated! ;)

Well, it is only a few days before we leave. I have been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now and thought that this would be the time to do it. I just want to take the time to thank so many people, especially my Twitter network for all the advice, answers to questions, and great thoughts you have put out there for us to look at over the last few months. YOU ALL ROCK! I always enjoy your tweets, blogs, podcasts and for the next little while, I hope I can pay it forward to some of you through my posts, pics, and tweets as I head back "home".

Have a good one!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Music to Run By

Well this week we have been off for Easter break. It has been a great week to relax and just focus on training for The Regina Police Half Marathon on April 18th, get things ready for track and field season at school, and watching some movies that I have never seen before. Can you believe I have never seen Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, 300, or the Xmen trilogy? Well, I haven't but have spent some time getting caught up on those.

Also, have spent alot of time listening to some new music to put on the iPod shuffle. The playlist for running was getting a bit repetitive so I had to add some to mix it up. If you remember my previous post about music and running (scroll down), you know I change my music selection up ever so often. I definitely try to keep music that is going to keep moving during the hard parts of the run. Again, if you are a runner or a music lover, you might want to add some of these to your mp3 player. I told you before, I am definitely a top 40 kind of person. These are just the ones that caught my ears this month. All the links will take you to YouTube so you can listen to the tracks. Enjoy!

Imma Be - Black Eyed Pea
Carry Out - Timbaland featuring Justin Timberlake
If We Ever Meet Again - Timbaland featuring Katy Perry
Morning After Dark - Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado
Young Money - Vita Chambers
One Day - Matisyahu featuring Akon
Get Up and Dance - Faber Drive
I Made It - Kevin Rudolf
Haven't Met You Yet - Michael Buble
Bust It - Glee
If I Had You - Adam Lambert

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Give Me a Head With Hair....or take it all away!

So, this is the part where I get to mention how awesome my 75 students are in my morning classes! That's right! I have some of the best students around. To all of you that are teachers, I am sorry that you had to miss out on having MY students! We have had an amazing year, so far, and the last 11 days have made it that much better!

It all started two weeks ago when one girl, in my period three class, put up her hand and said, "Mr. Young, you need a haircut." Now, some people might say, "yes, I do" and move on with the class. My brain doesn't seem to work that way. I turned to her and said, "Yes, I sure do! Who wants to cut my hair?" Well, of course, all of the students put their hands up. This lead me to ask, "who is going to pay the most to cut my hair?" Well, at that moment, the wallets and purses came out and they started putting up $5s and $10s. KA CHING!

Then, as most teachers brains think, how could we do this for the greater good? We had just had our fundraiser at school the Neo Natal centre at a provincial hospital. However, here were my students wanting to reach this goal. My suggestion was that we could do something to help our school out. Recently, there has been a committee created to fundraise for a new gym floor in our school (I am not part of this committee. However, I do use the gym all the time).

So, I stopped the class. I stopped teaching the content of my curriculum. I stopped the typical "learning" that my students are supposed to get. I stopped. I looked. I thought.

Now, if you know me, I sometimes like to jump into something without thinking. Sometimes things come out of my mouth before I think. "Who wants to shave my head?" I looked around the class and all of them got this weird glint in their eyes.

"Let's raise some money for the school" I said to my period 3 class. "What could we do?" Without missing a beat one student put up their hand and said, "GYM FLOOR!" All the other students were in favour of it. They all use the gym at some point in their educational careers so they thought it would be a great thing to help out with. It started off with everyone saying that we could get all 75 students in my morning classes (all grade 9s) to bring in a Toonie ($2 coin here in Canada). That would give them $150. All of them agreed, nope, that wasn't enough.

So, I did what any great teacher would do, I left the room. Before I left, however, I said to them, "YOU need to come up with something that works for you." I left for 8 minutes (stood outside the classroom door). What I overheard was kids talking and others going up to the door. When I walked in they came up with the plan:

$150 one hour in the gym for fun time
$400 Mr. Young shaves his chin goatee
$500 Mr. Young shaves his head
$1100 Mr. Young does everything above plus wears a dress to school for the day

Ok, they came up with a plan. I was happy about that. However, leave it to my teaching partner (friend that I have taught with for 6 years) to come into the class and say, "wear a dress or wax his legs?" WELL, as you can guess the students heads almost exploded and then it was the conversation of "Pain vs. Humiliation"? Well, PAIN won this round. HUH? What a minute! I did not sign up for waxing the legs. However, remember, I jump into things without thinking. So, of course, I said, "SURE!" I mean, really, how bad could it be?

So, the next day, I found that word had spread to my other two period classes and the game was officially on. However, nothing ever runs perfectly. One of my administrators had mentioned about how cool it would be to see if the students could raise $25 per student (which would get all of their names up on the honour wall of contributors, for the floor, that would go in the gymnasium). That would up the total to $1825. $1825? ARE YOU KIDDING? I am dealing with grade nines! So, I presented all of my classes the number. Yes, it was up significantly from $1100 but once the students found out that their names would be up on the wall, they got a hunger in their eyes that I had never seen in a class before. My thoughts were, "yeah, they like the idea right now. It is going to fizzle out! They are not going to make that amount!" Thankfully I have two wonderful Educational Assistants that are with me, in the mornings, that kept track of the money that was being brought in and they continued to give amazing encouragement to all of the students and keep them updated on the total amount being brought in!

Over the next few days I left them to their own devices. Students were brining in spare change, cash, cheques from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. Every class would be told the total throughout the morning. Everyone was encouraging each other. $2 coins were applauded the same if someone brought in $300 cheques. Everyone brought in what they could bring. Could it be the we had a group of teenagers were having fun raising money for something other than slurpees and video games?

Well the day came, 11 days after this all started. On that day they didn't just have $1875, they had $2200 on the nose. I cannot describe the amount of cheering that went up in all of the three classes when they found out they had made it.

It was then that all 75 of my students looked at me, smiled, and all started making jokes about waxing my legs, shaving my head, and getting rid of the scruff on my chin. There was NO way I could get out of this now. What had I agreed to? I could get on board with the chin, the head, but the waxing of the legs? Thankfully, I had lots of ladies that I work with come up and give me advice on how to reduce the pain of the waxing. Lots of them though just said, "make sure you have something to hold onto and grit your teeth!"

As you can see from the video below, I made good on my promise. We raised money for a good cause, and we had some fun with it! However, when I look back at this whole thing, I am starting to realize that my students learned something that wasn't in my curriculum guide. GASP! That is a big no no, isn't it? Everything I do should come from my curriculum guide! That is what I have always been told.

So what did my students learn from this?

1. They learned about working together to reach a goal
2. They learned that everyone contributes what they can and that any amount should be applauded and looked at as a small step towards their big goal
3. They learned how to cheer each other on.
4. They learned that adults don't have to do everything for them. They can make things happen for themselves as long as everyone is on board

Not from a curriculum guide, I know, but guess what? I DON'T CARE! To me, if they learned those four things from this experience, THEY have done their job!

Yes, I lost my goatee. I lost the hair on my head. I lost the hair on my legs and put up with the pain. So what? As long as my students can walk around with their heads held high knowing that THEY did something to make our school a better place, it was the least I could do.

Here is the video that was created by one of my Media Studies 20 students of the whole festivities that took place on the day I had my "$2200 haircut". The only thing you can't put on film is the pride and joy that is in their hearts. Yep, MY STUDENTS ROCK!!! I am a proud proud proud teacher!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

When You Wish Upon a Tweet @mrbrettyoung

"Are you kidding? Why on earth would I join a site where all it is is updating my status over and over. I have Facebook, thanks, that's enough for me. This Twitter thing sounds dumb. It will be here and gone like MySpace. I don't even know anybody that is on it and how can I keep my privacy protected by people I don't want know anything about! Plus, you only get 140 characters to type something. BLAH!"

The statement above became my "rehearsed line" for about the course of a year when anyone in my inner circle would ask, "have you signed up for Twitter yet?" Not that they had signed up or anything, but they know that I always seem to jump on the new "tech train/web 2.0" tools and then abandon them as soon as I become disinterested with it. I actually was "The Anti-Twitter" and would tell everyone that Twitter was just like updating the Facebook status line, why would I want another outlet to do that?

Then, that day happened. That day when I went to and hit that "sign up now" button. I still remember that little blue bird, sitting there, waiting for me, calling out to me to contribute countless Twitter messages that later I would call "Tweets" to absolutely no one that would even see it. It actually started when I was out for lunch with my sister (@wdwgirl1) and she said that she had signed up for Twitter to start posting things about what her students were up to in their grade one class. Of course, my rolling of the eyes and my rehearsed statement came out and I was off on my anti-Twitter rant again. Then, and in only the way a sister can, she said, "Have you tried it? Then don't knock it." It was a very direct statement that left me with the challenge of actually seeing what this site was all about before I said another word about Twitter in her presence. So, on Sunday, May 17th, 2009, at 2:10 pm (thanks, Ubertwitter, for keeping that record)with 0 tweets, 0 followers, and 0 people following me, my social networking world shifted into something that I had never thought possible before.

Of course, as with all new things, I was hesitant and I remember, my first tweet stating, "jumping into this without a parachute" and I hit that update button. Then I started figuring that I should actually start "following" some people in hopes of figuring out what would happen. Of course I started with the "Twitter Top 4" which included "Ellen, Oprah, CNN, and Ashton". Then, as I was looking I saw this link for something called . So I went there and they asked to to type in types of things I was interested in. Naturally, I went with "Disney, WDW, EdTech, Running". It was immediately after inputting those words, and searching for them on this site that the doors swung wide open for me and a flock of those little blue Twitter birds and the fail whale sang the Hallelujah Chorus.

Who were all these people that were interested in the things that I was interested in? @loumongello? @allearsdeb? @disneydean? @zannaland? @Ndm_1? @marcmantoo? @markymarc70? @aaronspod? @disneyfoodblog? @courosa? (form Education prof that I had) @shareski? (our school division's EdTech consultant, so I knew who he was) @tiffiniholland? @coryholland? @dawnis? (one of our city councillors) @disneyrunner? @mpmark? @bonnieg88? @jillianmichaels? @mytrainerbob? Ok, fine, follow, follow, follow! hmmmmmm? I wonder who they follow? They seem cool. Ok, follow, follow, follow.

After that, I decided to head out to the farm, as I usually do on a Sunday afternoon. Should I tweet that I am going to the farm? Maybe. Sure. I don't know! What I do remember though is that, when I got out there, I decided to use my blackberry to find out if there was anything that I could use to actually tweet from my phone. I knew it could be done because I had heard that you could, but how? So after one google search I found this thing call "Ubertwitter". Ok, why not! I like the sound of the name when I say it, so I will download it and see. Then, all of the sudden I could see everyone's tweets on my Blackberry. Cool! I could watch all of these tweets come through on my phone. Oh, plus you can add a picture if you want to your tweets. Hey, the girls are flying a kite. Sure, why not! Click! Upload to Ubertwitter and, Voila, it was out there! Then someone tweeted back that the kite flying looked like fun(don't remember who). I tweeted back and said, "yes, lots of fun out here in the wind today."

From that moment on it has been a complete blur and now all of the sudden I am sitting in my chair, tonight, typing out this blog, Tweetdeck is running in the background with @tiffiniholland and @coryholland (married couple that I am following from Nashville. THEY ROCK!) going back and forth at each other of things that Cory promises he won't do when he is older (wear socks with flip flops or call his wife an old maid), @disneyrunner (Gordon,, from Alabama completed a race this morning and is off to bed now), and many people are discussing their day at Walt Disney World as the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival has started and there was a D23 event today. Today is Saturday, March 6th, 2010, at 10:41 pm and I have posted 9152 tweets, with 647 followers, and I am following 554 people.

So, after all this, I guess the question is, and the one I am answering now when people ask, "Brett, what has changed your opinion about Twitter since you joined? You used to despise it."

My answer, "a broader perspective into the amazing connections, resources, conversation, and power of a social network that all come from me creating it by hitting that FOLLOW button."

Twitter has opened my eyes that there are people out there that have similar interests that I do and that even though I may never be in the same room as these people we can chat, share resources, and in 140 characters get our point out there for people to see. I have created "My Network". No one else in the world has the same network as me. I choose who I want to follow and who I don't want to follow. I choose what I want to tweet about. I get to use those 140 characters in any way that I wish. I have heard it said over and over, "Twitter is like a party where we all have little conversations with each other." There is never a "hello" and "goodbye" as we are all connected 24/7.

My network is made up of people who share my interests. I have had motivation and tips from runners and other fitness professionals. I have had resources posted from educators all over the world, some of which I have made use of in my classroom. Those educators have even gotten me to rethink my philosophy on education based on the thoughts that they shared. Finally, my most strongest network on Twitter, my Disney Tweeps that are absolutely the most incredible folks I have ever followed (and I am hoping this year, will definitely have the chance of meeting in person). Through this network I have met authors of Disney books that I have read, cast members that work for the parks and the Disney company, and fans of Walt Disney World that share (and have gone on as many trips as I have) the love for that piece of land in Florida. Plus, with my entire network, we have shared in happy times, tragedies, accomplishments, births, marriages, and many other countless experiences that we have all had in our lives. Could it be that I have actually gotten to that point where I might have actually thought about giving up my beloved Facebook for my Twitter network? Trust me, I have thought about it but when I mentioned it to some friends and family they freaked because they are still in the Facebook camp.

To show what goes around comes around, I still remember in June of last year, my teaching partner, @B_Bmom (Tana, whom I have taught with for six years) took my phone one afternoon and kept it hidden until the end of the day because she thought I was on Twitter too much. She eventually gave the phone back and then started to wonder what this Twitter thing was really all about. A few days later she signed up for Twitter. Now, she owns a blackberry and is constantly retweeting and posting on Twitter and building her network. Hmmmmm, wonder if I should steal her phone for the day? Give her a taste of her own medicine!

Plus, to show the power of Twitter, a few days ago, it was my birthday. Tana and I were working out at the gym (on my birthday) and we were talking about what my biggest birthday wish would be. Well, as a huge fan of The Biggest Loser on NBC, I said that I would love for Jillian Michaels (sigh) to wish me a happy birthday. Of course, I laughed as I said it because to me it would never happen. Then Tana said, "well, she is on Twitter (and she is verified with that blue checkmark which means it is her) so let's put it out to our networks to see what would happen." Tana posted a request for Jillian to wish me a happy birthday and I retweeted it to my network. Over the course of the day I watched this tweet blow up until I am sure Jillian Michaels thought she had a stalker on her hands. My network and Tana's network were retweeting and adding comments to Jillian. I was in shock. Still, no tweet from Jillian came. I was not too worried as it was a long shot. However, the next day, I was told to check my phone from my cousin Bonnie. My first reaction was, "No, it couldn't have happened, could it?" This is what I saw:

That's right, Jillian Michael's had posted a happy birthday message to me! To me, that is pretty cool and just goes to show that things can happen when you put it out there to your network. For me, searching Google is the second thing that I do nowadays. If I ever have a question about something, I will pose it to my network first because, I am more likely to get a beneficial answer back from someone that knows. "Anyone know a good running training program? Anyone used this website in their classrooms? Who is staying for EMH at the MK and going to ride the TTA or HM or POTC?" (if you can answer that last question, you are part of my Disney network!)

Some tips that I have figured out about using Twitter while using it over the last number of months:

1. This is your network. You get to build it. You get to decide who you follow. You get to decide if you want to unfollow someone. That's the way it is.

2. Building your network takes time. It does not happen over night. You need to spend some time looking for people to follow.

3. You need to be willing to put yourself out there. Respond to people's tweets. Share resources and links to things you find useful. You will be surprised how many people will share back.

4. Twitter is NOT something you have to commit to all the time. You get to decide when you post tweets and when you sit back and watch.

5. Follow people from all areas of interest that you have. From here, you get to watch your network grow and grow.

6. Enjoy the experience of getting to know people that you normally would not find yourself in a room with. Twitter is not about the number of people following you, it is about you following people that will be beneficial to your network and your experience on Twitter.

So, Beckie, sister of mine who always gives me the look and the tone, "don't knock it till you try it", I have tried Twitter. You were right, I.....was......wrong. I don't admit that too often. The anti-Twitter Brett is dead. I have been newly conformed and am grateful for this tool and my amazing network! YOU ALL ROCK!

Now, as Tweetdeck has been running in the background as I typed this up, I see a few mentions I need to go and reply to as some people are wondering what I am writing on my blog. Plus, @coryholland is still posting things he will never do when he gets old. I am going to have to meet him someday.

Have a good one!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Beats on the Streets...or sidewalk...or path...or on a treadmill

Two years ago, when I started this whole "running" thing, I knew from the moment I stepped foot into the gym at school or eventually the loop around where I live that I was going to get distracted easily. Case in point, as I was running, all I could hear was the sound of my breathing and my feet hitting the pavement. For those of us that remember when we started to run, that was the most unpleasant sound in the entire world. The "heaving" and "hacking" and muttering under our breath as we cursed those that got us into this in the first place (Stephen and Tana @b_bmom I am directing that to you). As for your feet hitting the pavement, you could hear every "pound" and "crunch" and you became more aware of your legs and your pace. It was brutal!

Now, there will be the die hards out there that will say, "now Brett, when you are running, and you are outside, you should listen to nature; the birds singing, the leaves blowing in the trees, the peacefulness of where you are." I say, "YEAH RIGHT! That's not happening so I am getting an iPod, loading my music onto it, just so I don't get bored and I have something to distract me during my time out there." The funny thing is that time does fly when you have tunes in your ears.

I also know that there is a lot of people in the running community that are either for having MP3 players during races and those that are dead set against them. Even now, MP3 players are "strongly discouraged" in races and if you do have them on, you must make sure that the volume is at a level that you don't become a "hazard" on the course. I totally agree with that. Plus, during our training runs, I would hope that most of us that do have MP3 players with us are not so wrapped up in our music that we lose complete self-awareness that we are running in places that have heavy traffic. If you can't hear the semi coming up behind you, YOUR VOLUME IS TOO LOUD, PEOPLE!

As for my selection of MP3 player, I decided to go with as small as I could get in both physical presence and memory. For some reason there are people that need to have all of their music with them when they run or workout. For me, as long as I can put on about 50 to 100 songs onto the player, I am happy. Plus, I don't have the need to have a designated "workout playlist" as it is all on the player. That made me decide to go with the iPod shuffle (second generation). I went with the 1GB version as it allows me to have about 200 songs on it. As of right now, I only have about 84 songs on mine right now. Luckily, they are all songs that I don't care which one comes on because it is one that I know I can run or workout to. I will say that I am not too happy with Apple's design on their generation 3 iPod shuffle. They have now designed the iPod shuffle so that the controls are on the ear buds, not on the actual player which would let me go between songs. Which leads me to my next gripe; headphones.

As for headphones, for some odd reason (whether it be genetics or what) those little iPod headphones that come with all their MP3 players do not stay in my ears when I run or workout. So, after many attempts at the "buds" I decided to go with the wrap around the back of the head Sennheiser PMX60 Street-Style Headphones. They are awesome! Great sound plus, they stay on my ears! Thus you can see why I will stick with the generation 2 iPod shuffle for as long as I can. At least with generation 2 I can decide which headphones I want to plug in. Apple, Steve Jobs, can you hear me? Change it back, please!

The last part is the strap to put your Shuffle on. Yes the generation 2 iPod has a nice clip you can place on your person so that it work for you. However, the last thing I want to worry about, while running, is having the iPod fall off and me having to put it back in place. That is where my Belkin iPod strap comes in hand. The iPod just clips in, you put it around your arms with the velcro strap and you are good to go. Plus, the velcro is amazingly strong. Have had it for over a year and a half and have never had issues with the velcro.

Blah Blah Blah! That might seem like the "plug" for the products, but people have asked me what I wear while running and I am just telling you what works for me. Would you rather talk about types of running shoes? Yes? Well let's leave that for another entry.

Now, onto music. What do I listen to while running or working out? I know that everyone has different tastes in what they listen to. I have lots of people on Twitter and Facebook ask me about what is on my iPod shuffle to keep me going. My taste in music is eclectic (spelled that right on my first attempt!). I listen to pop, rock, and even country. Whatever is in the Top 40 or popular at the time, I will listen to it. I love the classics as well (60s, 70s, 80s, even the 90s now). The second I get sick of a song it comes off the Shuffle That's the nice thing about having a device like MP3 players where you are able to swap out your music at will to fit your taste at the moment.

I love my music and the nice thing about having a blog, and like I do on Twitter on occasion, is link to music that I am enjoying at the moment. Is it for everyone? NO! We all have our own taste. For me, I don't mind having Lady Gaga mixed in with Aerosmith, Jason Derulo mixed in with Journey, or a Glee song mixed in with DJ Kool.

For me, as long as the song can keep me moving between a steady or a hard pace during a run, I will have it on my iPod. It has got to make me GO GO GO! Because of the joys of the internet there is even sites devoted to running songs. There is even a site that breaks songs down into Beats Per Minute (BPM)! Songs are broken down into their BPM and then listed on the site so people can see how hard they could actually be working their body. Please check it out at Running Music Mix.

Because music is a passion of mine, along with MANY other things (cough cough Disney cough cough) I would like to post a few links to songs that I am listening to every few weeks. I hope that you will, maybe, hear a song that you would like put on your MP3 player for your workout.
Music is an amazing motivator during a run or a workout. Whether is is the lyrics, a certain guitar riff, or the beats per minute, music can keep you going through the hard parts when we need that extra little bit of "kick". Sorry nature folks, tweeting birds do not get me motivated!

So, what's on my iPod right now? As you can see, Owl City's "Fireflies" is not listed as those who follow me on Twitter know that I detest with a passion! Here we go:

Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolf
Jai Ho - AR Rehman and Pussycat Dolls
Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas
The Quest - Brynn Christopher
Let Me Entertain You - Robbie Williams
I Don't Care - Fall Out Boy
Just Push Play - Aerosmith
Walk This Way - DMC and Aerosmith
Can't Stop Messin - Aerosmith
Stronger - Kanye West
Breaking Dishes - Rhianna
In My Head - Jason Derulo
Jump - Flo Rida with Nelly Furtado
Telephone - Lady Gaga and Beyonce
Blame it on the Pop 2009 - Dj Earworm (AMAZING MIX of 25 hits from 2009)

Celebrate You - Corbin Bleau (Cause let's face it, we have to have something Disney in this entry! Definitely thinking about January 2011 Goofy's Challenge when running to this one)

This is just a taste of what is on my Shuffle. There will be other entries dealing with running and workout music in the future as I keep changing what is on the iPod! :) If you have one that you workout to all the time, please feel free to list it in the comment section. I am always looking for new music to put on the iPod. Please, let me know what you are listening to!

Have a good one!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Dream Called Walt Disney World

How many of us remember that movie from above? I guess I am mostly talking to my Twitter people here! :) It was almost a ritual, on the weekends for my sister and I to pop in the BETA tape of "A Dream Called Walt Disney World" and watch it once, twice, oh fine, sometimes three times on Saturday afternoons. I still remember putting in the tape and having to rewind it because someone had forgotten to the last time we watched it. Then waiting for that first image of the the castle on the screen, that little girl in the red dress walking towards the castle and opening that big door. Then, in the blink of an eye, a half hour had gone by and I felt like I had had a mini vacation to WDW and likely would just hit the rewind button and have another. I also remember after each view running up to my parents and saying, "when are we going back?" That question was often answered by the "sometime" response.

I have, over the course of my life, been called "spoiled". Not that I am a snob or anything like that (like to think of myself as the opposite). However, I won't lie in say that I have been very fortunate to go on many trips to Walt Disney World since the time I was four years old. Today, I am almost th-th-thir-thirty (sigh) and will be heading off to WDW with my family (mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, niece) for my 26th trip this coming July.

Now, for some of you that I follow on Twitter and Facebook, that maybe doesn't seem like a HUGE number to some of you because I know that Disney is a passion. Hey, that's what caught my eye when I decided to follow most of you you. However, for some, that is a big number.

Responses when I tell people that I have gone to WDW 25 times and continue to return year after year:
  • "really, again?"
  • "Do you own the company?"
  • "Why? Has it changed that much?"
  • "Don't you want to go someplace else?"
  • "There is a big world out there and you aren't experiencing it."
  • "Seriously? Seriously? Seriously?"
The questions above I have learned to smile and take them in stride. In fact, I kind of laugh on the inside when I hear one of them directed at me; especially when it is someone that has either "A" never visited WDW before or "B" was there once in the early 1980s and doesn't think the place has changed. Of course there are those people that, what I like to call "get it", and they just wish us a good time, tell us to take lots of pics, write trip reports, and enjoy yourselves. A lot of you understand that already. The place is just so big that you can find many things to do throughout your trip and still have not done it all. Oh yeah, "and when you're done and you think you are through, you turn around and there's more than you ever dreamed of." True fact. It's in the song (look above).

My life has been Disney since I was four. I don't know what it is like without it. Theme parks, Orlando, Animated Features, Figment, Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers, Ducktales, Roger Rabbit, etc. I love the fact that when I was about nine my parents felt comfortable enough to say, "Ok, Magic Kingdom. Brett, do you want to go off by yourself for a bit? Do you have your watch? We are meeting at this time in front of Casey's. Remember, if you need help, look for a Cast Member. Have a good time!" Now, some parents are probably gasping, "they let him go by himself when he was nine?" Yep! Seems my parents thought I had some common sense. Plus, they knew that I knew my way around the parks (MK and Epcot during this time then the Studios and AK later on). Later on, when my sister was older and cousins were with me, we had no problems just going off on our own. That's just the way it was. It was awesome to feel that independence to just go off and do what I wanted to do. Does that mean I didn't spend any time with my parents? No. However, at least once a day they would let me go off for about two hours by myself and just explore and let me soak up the Disney experience, my way. For that, I am grateful.

Why do we continue to go back? That is a question that is often asked of myself and my family. Nostalgia? somewhat. Memories? yep. Because we know that when we go on vacation we have a place where we know we are going to have a great time and relax. Absolutely. I guess, for me, the reason I keep going back is because I want to go to a place that I know I am going to have a good time at. I am not a "lay on the beach and get sunburned" kind of person. Can and should I go and explore other areas of the world. Yep, I probably should. Will I, eventually? Maybe. I am not too worried about it right now. The cool things is is that I have watched the place grow and evolve over time. Like watching a child/student grow over the years. It is amazing how far WDW has come over the years and there is still so much more to develop. I guess I continue to go back because I like looking at it through the eye of a "fanatic" and not a "tourist". I love watching the Cast Members do their thing. I love walking through Adventureland as the MK is closing down. I enjoy helping others that need assistance when they are lost. Plus, I always enjoy giving away the FastPasses we don't use to a family that is just walking into the parks. Some would say that is "manufactured happiness". To me, I see that as living the life that I would love to see in the "Real World".

This year, of course, I am going to have an amazing WDW year. We are off for a vacation in July and then in January I will be heading back down to combine my two passions; Disney+Running=Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge. That, for me, will be the experience of a lifetime. Some of us have talked about a "bucket list" and that is one that has been on mine for the last two years. It is time to cross it off!

Let's face it, I could go on and on with this post. However, I just like people to know where I come from. I have a passion for anything and everything Disney. I don't have a website devoted to it (but I visit a ton of them). I don't have a podcast (but I love listening to them). I haven't written books about Disney (but I love reading them). I love all those people that share their passion about Disney. It definitely makes me realize I am not alone in the world, lol!

So, to all of you out there who share the "Disney Dream" along with myself and my family, we would like to thank all of you for sharing your passion with us. I would like to especially thank all of those people that I follow on Twitter that have Disney as their passion. Your information and insight is awesome. I hope that I have been able to share even a tenth of what you have shared with me! You all ROCK!

This post is not meant to be mind shattering or anything. I just wanted to share where I am coming form when it comes to my passion for Disney. This is just a drop in the bucket. I guess maybe I should write a book. hmmmm?

Now, as with the end of all Disney BETA movies, we need to watch this! You know what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chewing the fat...but not too much!

First of all, I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments on my last post. Whether is was on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the site, it meant a lot to hear from so many of you.

The one thing that I seemed to skim over in the last post, and many of you asked me about, was what changed in my eating habits? On January 20th, 2008, when I came home to clean out my fridge, what did I take out and what did I put in?

My eating habits before I started this journey, of fitness and healthy eating, was not good. It was not good at all. I was of the belief that the less carbs I ate, the easier it was for me to keep the pounds off (remember that Atkins diet that was hyped up a few years ago, well that was me). To me, the less carbs I thought I was taking in, the leaner I was. That was where the problem started. At first, when I started "that" diet, I lost 20 pounds. However, that's where I started to relax and slowly let carbs back into my life, without even realizing it. Not only was I letting carbs back into my life, I was consuming huge calories of fattening foods. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken. I would go and pick up a five piece meal thinking, "oh it's chicken, protein, no carbs. Plus, the skin is not so bad because it's just spices." WRONG! To make a long story short, at some point I pretty much just went off the Atkins diet and went straight back to eating very poorly.

The other thing that I was doing very poorly was not eating throughout the day. In my head, I thought that the less food intake I had throughout the day would be beneficial. I never ate breakfast. EVER! I skipped lunch! Yes, skipped lunch! For those of you keeping track that is two of the three normal meals that people eat throughout the day. But, to me, I was burning calories because I was not eating. Because of this type of thinking my brain told me that I could have whatever I wanted at supper time because I wouldn't be eating again until later on the next day (probably supper time again). This type of thinking got me to the supermarket where I would almost, everyday, no joking here, buy a box of honey garlic chicken wings and a bag of mozza sticks. Plus, you have to have some dessert so I bought two cupcakes from the bakery. What's wrong with that? I hadn't eaten at all the day and I would burn those calories tomorrow. Oh, by the way, did I mention that I didn't usually sit down to eat supper until 8:00 at night. Yep, so my dinner consisted of a whole box of chicken wings, a bag of mozza sticks, and two large cupcakes, just as a treat. Probably looking about 5000+ calories right there in one meal. To me though, that was ok. That is, until my world changed (see the previous post).

As you are probably thinking to yourself, doing that on a regular basis definitely added to packing on the pounds. That and saying to myself, "oh one cookie here, a chocolate bar here, I can have a large pizza all to myself, that's not so bad." Oh, and when Halloween came around, those little chocolate bars, forget about it! What's one when you can have three? What's three when you can have eight? What's eight when you get the picture. Then you are left with the question of "Where did the box of chocolate bars go an why are my jeans so tight?"

Two songs come to mind as I just typed those last few paragraphs. Does this sound familiar? Click the links to see the videos

Fat - Weird Al Yankovic
Eat It - Weird Al Yankovic

Are you getting the picture of what my eating habits were like before? Good.

Then that kick in the butt happened (again, see previous post) and my world changed.

As you can probably guess, as I was cleaning out the fridge on that day, there were boxes of chicken wings, mozza sticks, and "treats" heading into the garbage and out to the dumpster. First thing about food control, out of site, out of mind. If it's not in the house, you can't get your hands on it. Let's face facts, we all have (not me anymore) our "secret stash" of something sweet or salty in the house. It's what we call our "comfort food" or our "treat". However, if you are eating it on a daily basis, doesn't that mean that it is not longer a treat? Just sayin!

Even though I hadn't learned about the running aspect of fitness yet, I did realize, quite quickly, that I did have control over what I was shoving in my mouth. So, on that day I went to the grocery store and bought what I considered "healthy":
  • Apples
  • Bannans
  • Life Multigrain Cereal
  • Strawberry Yogurt (sweetened with Splenda)
  • 100% Multigrain Bread
  • 1% Milk
  • Canned Tuna packed in water
  • Miracle Whip (you have to put something the sandwich)
  • Tomatoes
  • Baby Carrot Sticks
  • Frozen Green Giant mixed vegetables
  • 100 calorie Honey Butter Pringle Sticks
I had to start somewhere, and that's where I started. To me, I had enough to go on for a bit. Now, after looking at that list, has much changed in my shopping list? Not alot. These things are always in my cart when I go get groceries. I am a single guy and make my own meals. One of my favourite things to eat is sandwiches so I do eat them on a regular basis because they are quick and easy. Tuna sandwiches are my favourite things to make and luckily tuna is a very lean meat. However I also picked up lean turkey and ham from the deli counter from time to time, just to change things up.

When I sat down to see what I would eat on a daily basis this is how it would look:

  • bowl of multigrain Life cereal (with milk)
  • 1 bannana
Lunch (packed to eat at work)
  • 1 ham sandwich on multigrain bread
  • baby carrots
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple (usually eaten during the afternoon as a snack)
Supper (eaten around 5:30 or 6:00)
  • 1 Tuna sandwich with tomatoes on multigrain bread
  • baby carrots or mixed vegetables (sometimes both)
  • Strawberry yogurt (2-3 cups)
  • 1 pack of Pringle sticks or an apple (usually as a snack in the evening)
For the first week, was it torture to make that quick of a transformation from what I had been eating before. YES! Did I miss my wings? YES! However, what I realized was that because I had started including breakfast and lunch into my plan, instead of starving myself till supper, I wasn't famished before supper and eat everything in sight.

However, after the first week, it became quite natural to just make the food and eat it. Everything was easy to prepare, it was healthy, and I was putting good things into my body. Plus, I had absolutely no temptations or "treats" in the house to reach for. I had no choice but to eat what I had in the house and everything in the house was healthy. "Come on Young, you probably ate 5 of those packs of Pringle sticks a day." Nope! You know why? There is this thing called "Will Power". I had to make a choice. Do I put it in my body or not. Was I going to change or not? My choice was to change so I didn't stuff my face.

As for drinks, I didn't drink alcohol before (never have, never will) so that wasn't a temptation for me that it might be for some. Plus, I am not a coffee drinker so I didn't have to worry about that, as well. As for pop or iced tea, I had to get rid of it all. I went straight to water. That's it. I drank water. To this day (two years later) I bet I have only had about 10 cans of pop. I just don't crave it anymore. At restaurants, water. Best investment, get a water bottle like the one in the link. I am actually staring at that water bottle right now. If you have it with you all the time, you will use it. I make sure that I have one for at home and the gym, plus I have another one at work so that I can fill it up on a regular basis. My goal is to always get through two litres a day at work and more on my training and gym days. If you keep it with you, you will use it. Trust me, after a week you will find that you don't crave the other stuff anymore. You just have to make that choice and stick with it. Oh, and as for those 100 calorie drink crystals or whatever they are called, I don't use them. You could if you wanted a snack but I just don't drink them. To me, they just taste gross. I will admit now that I am two years into this whole thing, I have added V8 vegetable juice every so often to a meal and one thing that I am really liking is Mint Green Iced tea (non sweetened). That is a pitcher of hot water, 4 mint green tea bags and let it chill over night. Zero calories and it tastes good.

Ok, now for the dirty secret. Are you ready? There is such a thing, in my world, as a cheat day. Now, when I say cheat day, I don't mean "consume 10,000 calories because I can" day. I mean, I picked a day, which for me is usually Friday, when I have my weekly "treat". Yes, a weekly treat. No, it is not a full cake or a carton of ice cream. Nope. It is a pack of M&Ms. Just a pack. I look forward to Fridays! Some of you are rolling your eyes right now. Trust me, if you knew that you could only have one treat a week, you would love those M&Ms. The other "treat" that I am enjoying now is Carnation's "Low Fat" Hot Chocolate made with Splenda. During our winter months, that is my treat every so often.

Cravings? Sure, they happen. Like being in a staff meeting where they serve cinnamon buns or cookies. YIKES! The old me would be eating those up left right and centre. However, when I go to meeting now, I make sure to have some Pringle sticks, an apple, or a banana with me to crush the craving early. Oh, and I make sure to have my water bottle right beside me. Would rather be full of water than a bun loaded with fat and sugar.

This process started two years ago. Do I know that it will be different for everyone? Absolutely. Will there be times when we are celebrating and have some chicken wings? Yep. Will there times when some birthday cake will be eaten? Yep. When you go to the movie will you have some popcorn? Yep. Notice the word "some" is placed in all the sentences. Do you have to have a ton of wings? Your choice. Do you have to have a huge slice of cake? Your choice. Do you have to get the XXL sized popcorn at the movies. Your choice. Are you getting the picture?

You have a choice in what food you put in your mouth or what you drink. I can't reach through this computer and say to you, "eat this, not that" (interesting book by the way). All of us passed elementary school, and in elementary school we were taught what is healthy and what isn't. Were you listening during that lesson? Again, just saying!

Folks, there isn't a magic formula (no matter what they say on TV or in the magazines). It all comes back to the choices that we make. Who is putting the food in your mouth? YOU. Do I have days where I eat the things that normally I wouldn't. Yep. Uhhhhhhh, Walt Disney World people, we have been there, the food is GOOD! Le Cellier's Cheddar Cheese Soup, oh man I love that stuff! It is so rich and creamy.....oh right, healthy eating! :) However, having those days, I now know that means that I am going to be running an extra mile or workout for a bit longer to crush those calories. As a runner (still seems weird to call myself that), have I noticed that I have to eat a bit more to stay healthy and have the energy I need to keep running and working out? YES YES YES. I have to feed the machine, but I get to choose what goes into the machine!

Eating healthy should not be about losing weight (although it is awesome that it contributes to it). For most of us, it is a lifestyle change and over time it becomes second nature. I can't even imagine what would happen if I sat down to eat a box of chicken wings, a bag of mozza sticks, and 2 big cupcakes now, and I don't want to think about that. Does the former fat Brett sometimes pop up and scream, "EAT EAT EAT"? To be honest, yes he does. However, I look back on the last two years of my life and the positive impact it has had on me and ask myself if I am ready to give that all up? That guy usually goes away pretty quickly after that thought.

I am not a health professional or a doctor. I am just a guy who made a change, in his life, two years ago. I know what it is like to change (that picture below reminds me). Was it hard to change the eating habits? A little, but eventually it just took over and I look back now and cringe at my unhealthy eating. Again, cheesy line, "if I can do it, you can do it." You just have to make the choice to do it. Again, JUST SAYIN! Love that line! :) #getoffthecouch

Just realized I am out of apples! Anyone have one they can throw me?

Have a good one!