Disney, Life, Travel

Disney World 2014 – Epcot & Animal Kingdom

Isn’t funny how you look forward to something like vacation for so long and then BAM it’s over. Coming home on a Tuesday means hitting the ground running trying to catch up after being gone for a week. I wanted to try to write a recap with some Disney tips before I forget.  We packed so much into just a week. Traveling and vacations are some of my favorite things, but after day 6 or so I usually start to crave the comfort of structure. I’m looking forward to getting back to my bed, my food, and my gym. But we had a really great time.

This past week we spent 3 days at Disney World, my absolute favorite place on earth. This trip was especially exciting because Payton is old enough to ride almost all of the rides! We flew in late last Tuesday afternoon and stayed at the Wyndham right next to Downtown Disney for the night. We had reservations and park hopper passes for the next day so we wanted to be sure to get an early start. We headed right to Downtown Disney and ended up eating at Bongos Cuban Resturant and just walking around for a bit before heading to bed. We were up early the next morning to check into our On Property resort, Art of Animation.


I love love loved Art of Animation! It has four areas: The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Cars, & Finding Nemo. We had a family suite in The Lion King area. We already had our Magic Bands when we arrived so we just had to check in to activate them. It turns out they were updating their system when we tried to check in and they weren’t sure our Magic Bands would work in time for our Breakfast reservations or for our park tickets and fast passes, so they gave us hard copies of the park tickets and blank fast passes. Once the system came back online we still had our pre-booked fast passes as well!


One of the biggest tips I give to people who ask about how we plan is to invest in the Deluxe Dining Plan and make your dining reservations in advance. With the Deluxe Dining Plan each person gets to order an Appetizer, Entree, and Dessert at each meal, along with 2 snacks per day. With the plan you aren’t stressed about spending money on food and you can just enjoy your meals! We try to book Character Breakfasts’ with the Dining Plan so we don’t spend our time in the parks chasing down characters, they just come to our table while we eat! Our first meal on Wedneday was at the Grand Floridian at 1900 Park Fare. The food was great. Breakfast is one of my favorite meals because they have Mickey Waffles! Seriously, there is something magical that makes those waffles taste amazing. The characters at this breakfast were a bit out of Payton’s realm. We saw Mary Poppins, who I’m not sure she really knew. It also had Alice & the Mad Hatter, she was clueless on those as well. Tigger and Winnie the Pooh also showed up, which she was excited for.

After breakfast we were able to just take the monorail to Epcot, where we planned to spend half the day. epcotfamily

We planned on using our fast passes and riding all the big rides like Test Track, Mission: Space, and Soarin’. We started out with Test Track, which has changed a big since we last rode it. You get to design your own car and see how it measures up in different test areas like power, safety, and efficiency. I’m pretty sure every one just tries to build the fastest car they can! Payton picked the decorations for our car, isn’t it cute?



After that we headed to Mission: Space. I was a bit concerned about this one… I don’t always love this ride so I wasn’t sure Payton would love it. We started out heading towards the Green “less intense” side, but once we found out she was tall enough for the Orange “more intense” side we switched over. Poor girl had no idea what she was in for!


All or nothing, I guess! She did really well, but said she didn’t like the tight feeling when we would accelerate. She liked when we were floating or driving, but not when we would blast off. This turned out to be the ride we used to rate all the other rides… “Is this like the Space Ship ride?” No, its not as bad as the space ship ride… haha. But she survived, I was pretty proud of her!

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.jsWe also did the Nemo ride and played in the aquarium for a few minutes before heading to Soarin’. This ended up being her favorite ride of the day! After Soarin we headed over to walk through the World Showcase. We started in the United Kingdom where we had our lunch reservations at the Rose & Crown Pub. This is Chris’ favorite restaurant at Disney! It’s like spending a day in a real English Pub. I started with the Scottish Egg. I’ve heard a lot about these but don’t think I’ve ever tried one.  

Delicious Scottish Egg I had with lunch at The Rose & Crown in #epcot #normansdisney2014

A photo posted by Courtney Norman (@courtnorm) on


It was delicious! I also had the burger and Fries, which was fantastic. I had a Toffee Bread Pudding for dessert. After we finished we walked through the rest of the World Showcase. Payton loved hearing the different music and trying to guess what each world was.

We conquered Epcot in record time thanks to our ample supply of fast passes! We didn’t wait in line at all. We took the monorail back to the Grand Floridian where we parked and then headed back to finish checking into Art of Animation now that our room was ready.

After checking in and resting for a bit we headed back out to Animal Kingdom.


We wanted to take Payton on Dinosaur and Expedition Everest. Going in more of an off season, Animal Kingdom wasn’t that busy at all. We barely waited in line and got right on both rides. Dinosaur is always fun, but I was most excited to take her on Expedition Everest. It was her first “real” roller coaster! She absolutely loved it! Even if she had her eyes closed half the time.


We also did he It’s Tough Being a Bug show and joined in a few of the dance parties going on aroud the park. Animal Kingdom closes earlier than the other parks, I imagine it is because as it starts to get dark all the animals go hide for the night. We headed back to the hotel to rest and clean up for dinner. We had reservations at Boma, the African themed buffet at Animal Kingdom Lodge. The dinner was great with a large buffett of all different types of food. Meat, Salads, Soups, all kinds of flavorful food! Plus an amazing dessert buffett. They had a fun bongo dance party that Payton loved.

Day 1 at Disney was a long day, but SO fun!! We walked over 17 miles, without a stroller!! After dinner we were ready for bed… we knew we had another full day coming up as we planned on hitting Magic Kingdom all day the next day!

Have you ever been to Epcot or Animal Kingdom?
Do your kids (or you) like roller coasters?

Disney, Life

Disney on Ice: Celebrating 100 Years of Magic

I. Love. Disney.

Visiting Belle's Castle at the New Fantasyland back in November
Visiting Belle’s Castle at the New Fantasyland back in November

Everything about it. While my favorite way to experience Disney is at Walt Disney World in Orlando, given the opportunity to be involved in something Disney does I will always take it. When I saw Disney on Ice was coming to town I HAD to go. I mean… I knew I had to take my daughter… hehe.

Join the celebration as more than 60 of Disney’s unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!  You’ll be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and many Disney Princesses.  Be thrilled by exciting moments from The Lion King; Mulan; and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Story films; in a skating spectacular filled with magical Disney moments you’ll remember forever as Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!

For those of you in the St Louis Area the show dates are September 26-29 at Chaifetz Arena. Use the code BLOG to Save $5 on all performances except Opening Night when tickets are just $10* – To buy your tickets click here. For those of you who aren’t in the STL area check them out on Facebook and Twitter to see when they are coming to a city near you


 What’s your favorite Disney Movie?

*Discount does not apply to Rinkside, Circus Celebrity, Front Row, or VIP seats. No double discounts. Service charges, handling, and facility fees may apply.

I was provided with Free tickets in exchange for posting about the show. All thoughts and opinions are my own

Disney, Running, workouts

Weekly Workout Recap

Whew- What a week!! I am happy to report that we made it back home safe and sound. St Louis never looked so good! We had a great time, but there is nothing like being away from home to make you appreciate it more.

This week was an off week for workouts. We had plans to try out a local Clearwater CrossFit, but it turns out they needed a good amount of notice to “register” for classes and our schedule was so unpredictable we couldn’t make it work. That being said, there were still some decent workouts, just not nearly as many as I’m used to. I guess having a “slow” workout week can be good every once in awhile. It made me even more excited to get back to CrossFit and to really clean up my diet. Now, let’s look at the workouts!

Monday- Unintentional Rest Day

Lots of family time!

Tuesday- 2 mile beach run

Wednesday- At Home/Travel WOD

The hubs and I were itchin for a good WOD so we improvised and created our own. It was all body weight stuff and was pretty quick, around 5-7 minutes. We just did 1 round but if you wanted a more intense workout you could do a few rounds. This was enough to get the blood pumping and a little sweat going. It

Thursday- Rest Day

Lots of work stuff going on, plus squeezing in some last minute family time and packing

Friday- Walking around Disney World

We drove from Clearwater to Orlando to spend a day at the happiest place on earth. This including lots of walking. We also went the whole day without a stroller, so there was plenty of “heavy lifting” including my nearly 40lb 2 year old.

Saturday – Pretty Muddy

We left Disney around 7pm and headed towards Miami, where I was working another Pretty Muddy event. I didn’t actually run the course this time but spent the day walking all over the place, taking pictures, meeting up with our Team Pretty Muddy bloggers and getting feedback from participants. It was our largest event yet! I was exhausted, but had a great time!

Sunday- Travel Day

Sunday was a day of travel. That including lots of heavy lifting (toddler + luggage) and walking around the airport. I also went grocery shopping when we got home. Can that be considered an olympic sport? Good news is I got to test out my new therafit shoes on my grocery trip. After wearing minimalist shoes for awhile these felt like walking on marshmallows! Perfect for tired feet after a long day of travel. I can’t wait to tell you more about them!

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with my amount of activity for being on vacation. Not so satisfied with my food choices. I made sure to go grocery shopping so I have no excuses for not eating right this week.

I’m linking up with Little Girl in the Big World for the weekly workout round up!

Your turn- How were your workouts this week? What do you do for workouts when away from home?

Thankful Thoughts

17. Thankful for the opportunity to work with Pretty Muddy
18. Thankful for a nice house to come home to

Disney, Running, workouts

CrossFit Endurance

Since I started CrossFit I haven’t really been running that much. For awhile it was a relief, to be honest. I just felt like I needed a break. I wasn’t making progress and I was getting frustrated. I almost feel like it was a mental block.

I’m a “plus size” runner – I can’t be fast.
I could never run under a 10 minute mile
I have short legs, I can’t run
I just don’t have the runner build

As much progress as I’d made on my journey, I still struggled with negative thoughts.
and I believed them.

One of the things that CrossFit helped me learn was how to push past self doubt and embrace my inner strength, even if it started as a weakness

I am strong. I am capable. I can do this.

As I started reading other blogs about people training for marathons I realized that I kinda missed running. And that I was ready to try to start getting better.

When I was training for my marathon I really had no idea what I was doing. I hadn’t run an actual race in years, and never run anything over 3 miles! I still remember the first time I ran a “long” run of seven miles. I felt so powerful!

I started doing some research on CrossFit Endurance, and I’m really loving it! Today I went out for my first set of intervals. I just did 8×200 Repeats with a little warm up and cool down. I wasn’t shooting for the stars, but I really wanted to push myself on the intervals since they were short. I also had a running buddy!

I busted out the Disney Marathon shirt for inspiration. I never want a DNF again! Also- Payton decided she needed to keep her face warm, and this was the most logical way of doing it. Love that girl.

My best pace was 7:27… WHAT? One of my interval averages was 8:44. I am capable. I am strong. My usual running pace these days is around 12-14 minutes depending on so many things. Seeing I held an average 8:44 pace (even though it was a small interval) REALLY encouraged me. I need to snap out of this “I’m slow and fat” mentality when it comes to running. It is so weird that if you put a 150lb barbell in front of me I won’t fret picking it up- but tell me to run a certain pace and I freak out.

So- I’m going to get faster. And stronger. I’m going to keep up with the CFE workouts in addition to my WODS and I have plans for a huge PR at the GO! STL Half this spring.

Do you struggle with negative self talk?
Have you heard of CrossFit Endurance? Thoughts? 


Disney, Vlog, workouts

Coffee Date: Vlog is back!

So the last few weeks I linked up with Alissa’s Coffee Date I didn’t have a vlog – but guess what? Today I do! Return of the vlog! You guys get to see my pretty face this morning, aren’t you excited?!

Ohhh yea! Speaking of my Pretty face, did you catch the last FitFluential Newsletter? Guess who’s face was front and center? THIS GIRL!

How Cool is that?! They loved my Pretty Muddy Recap and shared it with all of FitFluential. (And speaking of Pretty Muddy – I mentioned this in the video but if you are wanting to run Virginia, Tampa, or Miami – Let me know!!)

And mentioning the mud… Tomorrow is Warrior Dash!

I’m still waiting on my official Wave time but I’m hoping somewhere around 9-10 since the hubs is running around 9:30!

and here are the links I mentioned: Rags to Stitches Blog
Yesterday’s Compassion Post If we were having coffee, what would you tell me?
How do you feel about Mud Runs like Pretty Muddy and Warrior Dash?

Disney, Life

Coffee Date: All Dressed Up

Hey Friends!

I had some server issues yesterday, so in case you missed it be sure to check out my Pretty Muddy Recap (with awesome video footage!)

Thanks for stopping by for coffee! I’m in desperate need of an extra cup today. I have been totally hooked on Green Mountain’s Pumpkin Spice coffee lately. Don’t tell anyone, but I actually hide my box of Pumpkin Spice K-cups so I am less likely to have to share…

If we were having coffee today I would tell you that I actually got semi dressed up today. And when the daughter saw me she kept insisting we had to be going somewhere. No, hunny, sometimes mommy likes to feel nice about herself. I guess she assumes if I’m just in a tshirt we obviously aren’t going anywhere. I guess I should work on my at home fashion sense!

I wore these when we went out for lunch, are they awesome or what? I found them at Target for just over $30!

If we were having coffee today, I would probably beg you for your advice on organizing. I have been feeling the urge to purge! I find my decent sized house feeling cluttered with stuff and like I talked about before clutter really gets me flustered and frustrated. My daughters room is one area that has been bothering me and I’ve been meaning to take care of it for like ever. Then yesterday after nap time I find this:

Finding Nemo Fish Tank

She decided to feed the entire bottle of fish food to the fish. Seriously?!

I don’t know why but that got me started in my manic cleaning mood and I ended up FINALLY cleaning out her closet. I put away here receiving blankets and onesies and replaced them with all her tutus and dress up clothes. Now I’m slightly jealous of her princess dress up closet with reading nook.

Princess Dress Up Closet

It felt so good to get everything organized that I think i’m going to keep the momentum going and de-clutter other areas little by little. I seriously feel less stressed out when it is clutter free.

So if we were having coffee I would ask you what your best de cluttering tips are. Please help me!

I would also tell you how excited I am to meet up with some local STL bloggers tonight. It is going to be awesome to actually get to interact with likeminded people in real life! More to come on that next week!

What would you tell me if we were meeting up for coffee?

I’m linking up with Alissa from Rags to Stitches! 

Disney, Dreams

Little Things

You know, it doesn’t really take that much to make me happy. I’m easily amused and love to enjoy the everyday things that some may see as “ordinary.” I wanted to make a little list of the little things that make me happy to share with you guys as we head into the weekend to help you recognize the little things in your life that can make you happy.

 Dual Monitors


 ok, this one might seem a bit nerdy, but it really has made my working (and blogging) life so much better! Having a gazillion spreadsheets, emails and documents open can get confusing. This helps a ton. It was actually my Mothers Day gift (You know you married a techie when…) and I couldn’t think of anything better, besides a trip to Disney… which leads me to my next point.

Another thing that makes me happy… Disney. 


I always have my Mickey Mouse glasses (those aren’t pink polka dots, they are Mickey Shapes!) and use my Disney Resort cup for Ice Coffee nearly every day. They remind me of the awesomeness that is Walt Disney World and help bring a little bit of that magic into my everyday life.

Also, I love that I have a family that shares this Disney love. As I type this an album of Classic Disney Songs is playing on Mr Dreamer’s computer. And what 2 year old little girl doesn’t love Disney Princesses? I’m pretty sure Little Dreamer is convinced she really is the lost Disney Princess.


For some reason my camera didn’t focus while I was taking the first picture, and while it might be blurry it is one of my favorites. Just look at that face! And the second picture makes her look so old. Stop growing up!!

Mail & Packages

Not email. Snail Mail. Although I don’t use it as much as I’d like, I love getting it! If you want to make my day (or week!) Send me a letter or package! I still listen for the Mail Lady and run out there after I see her put the mail in the box. It is usually junk mail and bills, but every once in awhile I get something good. Today was the jackpot of good mail days. I got a surprise package from Lindt Chocolate for participating in their recent BzzAgent Campaign.


Beautiful and Delicious.


I also received a copy of the new book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms and I am excited to be a part of the Don’t Sweat Moms team. Looking forward to reading this over the weekend, just in time for Mother’s Day.

Besides these two awesome surprises we also go Mr Dreamer’s and Little Dreamer’s passports in the mail. We are one step closer to Costa Rica! And we got back a $50 rebate card from a recent purchase from our wireless company. How often do you get that much goodness in the mail?! Today was an extra special day!

Now it’s your turn… What are some little things that make you happy?

Disney, Dreams

Disney World: New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom!

It’s no secret that my family and I are Disney fanatics, so when I saw an update come across my facebook about the New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom I became SO giddy that I just have to share it with all of you! They posted beautiful artist renderings of the Be Our Guest Cafe, Beast’s Castle, Gaston’s Tavern, Ariel’s Under the Sea Journey, and other awesomeness. I may or may not have actually teared up when I saw this Be Our Guest Cafe drawing. I can already imagine myself eating dinner there with my daughter and husband, it’s gonna be magical! So far the opening date is set for “Holidays 2012″… I’m thinking a trip to Disney for Christmas, Please Santa?


I have always been a HUGE fan of Disney in general, but of Beauty and the Beast especially. Belle is my favorite Princess, hands down. The original movie came out in 1991 and it was the first movie I can remember seeing in theaters. When I visited Disney World as a kid I loved seeing Cinderella’s Castle, but I always said that Belle needed to have her castle there too, and now she’s getting it! I also saw they are going to have Gaston’s Tavern, which I’m sure my 2 year old will love because she seems to have a crush on him (if this is any indication of the guys she will date we are in big trouble)…. Anyway, Check it out on the Disney Parks Facebook Page!

They also have more info on the opening up on their blog, so check it out! Also, check out this Behind the Scenes Video about the making of the Be Our Guest Cafe!


Disney really does know how to make dreams come true!!

What is your favorite Disney Character?

Disney, Family Life, Life

I’m Alive!

Hello blog0sphere! It has been for-ev-er. Ok, so its been like a month and a half, but in the blog world that is the equivalent of forever, isn’t it?

One of the reasons I took a break from writing is because I didn’t feel like I had a good “niche.” I didn’t know what I really wanted out of this blog. Yes, it is like an online journal for all the world to see… and I can write whatever I want… but I have been reading so many blogs lately and seeing how they all seem to have a niche… something specific about the blog that makes people want to read it. I didn’t feel like I had that. Life has been so chaotic lately I have a hard enough time keeping my “real” life straight that having an online life became second priority. I still feel like I have a lot to share, I love to write and I love the communities that I see in the blogging world but I still don’t know how I fit into that. Most recently I have found a passion for running and for crafting. I’m not a craft blog, I’m not a running blog… I just like to share what I’m excited about (which changes pretty often). Life is never boring around here, that’s for sure!

I still have to write up a recap of our disney trip… I can’t believe it was just a month ago that we were there! It was definitely the best vacation I’ve ever been on (minus Payton teething her molars while we were there)

We had such a blast and I learned a lot about myself through out my marathon experience, but it was a lot to process. I’ll have to write about it someday. For now I am busy training for a half-marathon in April, the GO! St Louis Half-Marathon. I am training with Team Living Water, to raise money to provide clean drinking water to underdeveloped areas. Check out http://www.crowdrise.com/CourtneyNorman to donate to this cause!

Also this week… My baby turns 2!!! I can’t believe it… She’s growing up so fast!


So, what I’d like to hear from you (my millions of followers…haha) is What kinds of things do you like seeing here on my blog? Personal Stories? Relationship Advice? Pictures of Payton? Running/Weight loss? Crafts? All of the above? Is anyone out there? Are you still reading this?