Mother’s Day, So Far Away

While I am now about 2,000 miles from my mother, grandmothers or mothers in law, thankfully with cell phones and social media there is a closeness that I can achieve.  But, there was a Mother’s Day about 12 years ago where I had none of these things, and was far away.

I had just begun working at Walt Disney World, and was assigned to work in MGM (what it was called then) that Sunday Morning.  I woke, put on my costume, arrived at work and then I saw it all before me.  The hundreds of Moms wearing corsages in their lapels.  Never had I felt more homesick than in that moment.  We hit capacity that day, and had to stage admittance for Guests.  So everywhere I turned there was a Mom and her kids enjoying Disney.  And all I could think of was my own Grandmother.  And how much I wanted her there.

At break I found my way to a pay phone, and like the excellent Mother she is, my Grandmother had sent me a phone card (remember those) for just such an occasion.  I dialed her number and waited.  Her voice came on the line, tiny and far away.  If you’ve never spoken to my Mammaw, she sounds like Snow White.  Not kidding, just like Snow White.  She has retained her little girl voice.  And I started to cry.  She started to cry.  It was a mess.  But, one thing I could manage to choke out was “I love you, and I miss you and I am at the Happiest Place on Earth and all I can think of is how I wish you were here with me to enjoy it.”  A few fellow CMs walked by, a couple smiled empathetically.  One stopped and touched my shoulder. But, all I wanted in that moment was to hold my Mammaw.

You see, my Mammaw was the first person to take me to Disney World.  She took me a total of 15 times.  So to me, it’s our place.  It’s always been that way.  She loved me from the first moment she saw me, and I her.  There is a special bond there, one that I know will never be replaced.  And since my time as a Cast Member we’ve gone back together several times, even with her great-grandchildren in tow to experience Disney with Mammaw.  Because, she brings a special magic all her own to the trip.  An optimistic way of travel, a knowing way of making even a Disney disappointment (crowds, lines, travel plans not working out) fully come into perspective.  “A rough day at Disney is better than the best day at Work.”  My Mammaw is one of the most special people I have ever been graced to know.  A beautiful person, inside and out.  A remarkable woman who never has stopped moving and knowing that good news is just as sure as the sun shining.  She to me is Disney.  Ever shining, ever glad, ever happy in the simple joys life brings us.

So cheers to all of you Disney Moms out there, like my Mammaw, who infuse a special way into your days.  Into your children’s lives.  Who can make even cleaning the house into a game, and make trips and vacations into adventures.  Happy Mother’s Day to us all, and may we forever take solace in the simple joys that life brings us.

Looking Your Best At The Disney Parks Pt. 2 Hair Affair

Recently a friend posted in my Facebook Feed: “Going to WDW in a couple of weeks, have no clue what to wear to look great but be comfortable!  Any suggestions?”  Immediately my mind went skyward as planning my vacation outfits has become such an intrinsic portion of my planning when going to a Disney Park.  No longer the stuff of sneakers and the standby Disney Tee, Disney Park Wear has evolved.  At least for me.  So here are some tips I have found work great for not only looking your best but remaining cool and comfortable.

Last time: See Part One Here we spoke about getting your tootsies all ready for the Parks and walking all over Walt‘s creation.  Well, let’s look at the total opposite end of your body, your hair.  Central Florida can be unpredictable in it’s weather.  I mean one minute sun is shining, birds are singing and then *BOOM* Crash! a torrential downpour for 20 minutes and more sunshine after that.  But, one thing you can count in Central Florida is the humidity.  It can be your best friend: straight hair peeps, or your worst, my fellow Curly Headed gals.  So, how do you cope, manage or otherwise deal with this pesky add on to your vacation plans?

Remember Monica?

Do you remember the episode of FriendsThe One In Barbados” where Monica spends the majority of her vacation going from this

to this:

to ultimately this:

Yeah, I’ve been there.  When the Florida weather makes your otherwise rational hair go completely nuts for the majority of your vacation.  But, fear not.  Seriously there are ways to work with your hair, and all hair types, in the Central Florida Humidity.  We’re going to tackle curly hair first and then go on to straight hair.  I’ll also list some products I know that have helped a great deal with not only taming my mane but also have helped me get out of the hotel in no time flat.  Not to mention they aren’t going to break the bank!

Curly hair can come in many sizes and forms.  You can have curly but baby fine, curly and thick, wavy and thick, wavy and fine, frizzy, you name it.  But, one thing remains the same from hair type to hair type, your hair has it’s own body and you’ve hopefully mastered a few ways of working with it since it was placed on your head at birth.  But, here is a pro that most of us with curly hair don’t think about, we have volume, naturally straight out of the shower volume.  All we have to master with the added Humidity is a way to control those curls a bit.

The Tools You Are Going To Need

A Hair Dryer.  

You know, and I know, that the hair dryer in the hotel isn’t going to cut it especially if it’s the kind the sits in a wall mount.  No sir, that will give me the biggest mess of snarls, frizz and tangles you can imagine.  So, you want a pretty decent hair dryer.  By decent though I mean anywhere from $15-45 dollars.  Some can range upwards of that into the hundreds, but let’s not go crazy.  The hair dryer I use for my curly look cost $15 at CVS.  The point is again to find what works for your hair and celebrate it.  The hair dryers that have ceramic or ionic can work pretty well for helping form locks too, so don’t discount and think ceramic is only good for your straight hair look.

A Diffuser.  

This is the secret ingredient to getting row upon row of beautiful curl with your hair dryer.  I like to use one that is a over size bell shape.  They attach into the front of your hair dryer and help to “diffuse” the air out into your hair in a more even way.  I usually keep the heat on medium and the speed as well low.  Going super fast you end up with frizz.

Products I Recommend For Curly Hair, Anywhere

Yes, I’ve tested all of the products above in Central Florida.  And yes, they all work.  But, they have to be used correctly.  Used incorrectly and you end up with 80’s Prom crunchy hair and nah we’re going for a natural curl with control.    A little can (and does) go a LONG way.

First is Bed Head’s Foxy Curls.  I buy this at the supermarket, no salon needed.  It’s light, smells fruity and lovely and is less than $10 on avg a bottle.    This is one where a little goes a long way.  I usually let my hair drip dry a bit then squeeze out a pump rub it in my hands and starting at the back of my hair underneath work it into my hair.

Next, Aveda’s be curly.  I used to work for an Aveda Salon and this is a very nice and light hair cream.  Not for those of us who need a ton of control however.  What it does though is help you prevent 80’s crunchy perm hair and give your curls definition without that gel-like hardness.  I recommend if you use this to work in a frizz control or all day leave in conditioner to minimize frizz and fly-aways.

Third we have Redken’s Curvaceous full swirl.  This is the latest product I have been trying.  I am impressed, but the price point is a little high ($17-18).  Also you have to time it’s application almost precisely or you get a lot of frizz or crunch.  Which is fine in the arid climate I live in where your hair dries pretty fast.  But, in a humid climate where you are already battling frizz, it may not be the best.  Still a good product if you aren’t worried about the frizz so much as heightening definition.  I get some of the most beautiful curl with this product!

Last, but certainly not least, we have Climate Control by Ouidad, this is the best product I have found for minimizing Frizz.  This isn’t something I use independently, I tend to use this then apply one of the three curl defining creams or lotions.  This just helps with defining curl even more than the creams can do on their own and works to keep your follicles smoother than if you used the curl lotions by themselves.

You have to think about the follicle.  You want to keep it from fraying as much as possible, thus keeping frizz to a minimum  So the next tools are going to feed into that idea.

Shirts Not Towels

It may seem like a weird tip, but here’s why I recommend this when drying your hair in humid climates.  A towel is made with a loop woven material. These loops literally snag your hair follicle all the way down.  Not to mention if you’re like me and have longer hair you do what?  You wrap it on top of your head to keep from dripping right?  So the snags start then at the scalp.  So, you are going to go out of your comfort zone Gladys and gently dry your hair with a soft cotton tee shirt.  I start at the ends and gently squeeze the excess water all the way back up to the scalp.  The fibers won’t snag the follicles of your hair so it minimizes your frizz levels and helps with curl definition later when you are drying.

Combs Not Brushes

Again we’re back at the follicle.  A wide tooth comb will minimize snags, and also break out your hair into larger sections which will then curl up into bigger curls.  I usually part my hair down the middle and then starting at the ends, work and snarls or tangles out gently.  I work all the way up to the scalp then use my fingers to more gently define the strands so they will curl naturally.  You want to minimize fraying so using your fingers to rake out your hair and then shake it out into sizable pieces will help in the long run with minimizing your frizz.

The Spray Bottle

This is one of those, “D’uh” things it took me a long time to include in my hair regimen.  But, since the ends of your hair dry faster than the roots, you want to keep it as even as possible.  So say you hop in the shower, dry off, gently dry your hair with a t-shirt like recommended above, rake and shake your hair out and are letting it air dry for a bit before putting in product and you lose track of time, were busy helping get the kids ready for the day or otherwise miscalculated and the bottom of your hair has dried it seemed in seconds, this baby will help rewet your hair without you having major frizz.  As well it is a time saver.  I usually dry may hair a bit before applying product to get a more natural curl look so this helps me with my timing. They don’t cost much (you can find them at the Dollar Store) and it’s a good little tool to have around to minimize your frizz.

Okay, so thats what you are going to need.  It may seem like a lot but, I can get my hair done in about 10-15 minutes and it lasts all day with minimal fuss and I don’t have to worry about what my hair will do if it gets a bit of moisture on it, the humidity gets worse or I get caught in a downpour.  Here is the step by step process I do though with getting my hair prepped and out of the hotel room:

First shower, shampoo and condition.  I leave in the Conditioner for about 5 minutes then it’s the last thing I rinse out before cutting the water and getting out.

Using the t-shirt I gently squeeze the excess water out of my hair, starting at the ends and working my way up to my scalp.

I will then comb out any snarls, part my hair and rake it into place.  Get dressed, do my makeup and I’m ready for product.

I put in the frizz control from Oneida, then I use one of the curl defining creams and starting at the back of my hair and underneath gently work in the product lastly finishing up around my roots and face.  This is a science, but practice makes perfect.  You want to avoid applying product starting at the front as you end up with gobs and globs of product up there which can make it appear you don’t have an even spread, plus it makes it look crunchy.  I had my beautician show me how to apply product to tell you the truth and it helped tremendously with getting a nice evenness to it’s distribution.

Let your hair absorb the product for a couple of minutes (finish getting ready, makeup etc.) If your ends tend to get drier, spritz them with a fine mist of water with your water bottle to help them stay moist and not frizz.  Now, it’s time to blow dry.

Attaching the diffuser to the front of your hair dryer I start at the bottom, turning the hair dryer end up towards the ceiling and “bounce” it upwards collecting the ends in the bell portion of the diffuser. Tip:  Keep the air flow on low and the heat on medium to help minimize frizz.  It may take longer but your hair will thank you!

Working the diffuser over your hair hit all major areas, underneath, ends, roots until 75-80% dry and you should have row upon row of beautifully controlled curls.

409

I am not kidding when I say this process with shower and makeup now only takes me 15 minutes and is my go to on busy mornings.  It’s especially helpful when we need to get out for rope drops or early morning Dining Reservations!

Questions or Comments?  Post below and let me know what works for taking care of your hair in Disney!

This Is Why Disney CMs Are The Best In The World

From the video:

“Just so everyone knows, this boy’s name is Ben. He has severe autism, and had been enchanted with Snow White’s Scary Adventures since he was a child. He rode the ride thousands of times, held the record for ride count, and he was the last guest to ever ride. On the last day, Cast Members kept running the ride after the park closed so he could hit 3500 times.”

If that does not melt your heart I don’t know what will.

We, like many parents of Special Needs children, have seen so many advancements in our son when he visits a Disney Park.  Disney Cast Members as well have always been the best at including our son, helping him and also providing alternate entrances and access if needed.  I cannot speak for everyone, but there are many times that I feel our youngest just feels like a nerotypical kid when at the parks.  The social differences melt away and he comes out of his shell.  Like Ben, our son has a favorite ride that he will ride over and over (if allowed), The Haunted Mansion.  And he also has never shied away from a character, in fact he seeks them out because they are there, very real and ready to greet him.  He relishes collecting their autographs and giving lots of hugs!

There is a certain Magic to visiting a Disney Park with a child who has Special Needs.  You see connections in new ways, abilities spring out, and almost a comfort come to them when visiting.   If you are a current or former Cast Member at a Disney Park, I just have to say thank you.  Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.  From my my family, my son especially.  You may not realize the various ways you have touched our lives or our family during our trips, but it’s there and you are one of the reasons we keep returning.

And to Ben, congratulations on riding Snow White’s Scary Adventures 3,500 times and being the last person to ride this historic attraction at Walt Disney World!!

Your Friday Funny This Week Is Based On A True Story

Image

I do it.  You do it.  We all DO IT.  Even if you haven’t done it in awhile I am sure if I came over and searched long enough, in junk drawers, glove compartments, old lunch boxes I might find a Year of a Million Dreams napkin scattered somewhere.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  It really is.  We all look for little things to sprinkle some magic into our humdrum lives once we get home.  I’ve been known to put them in my kids lunch boxes as a little day brightener.  Usually that first week after we get home I’ll write: “This time last week, you were in Disney World.  And you know what, we’ll go back again someday! :)”

It’s all kinds of good.  So smile take a couple of extra napkins for the glove box or your purse.  Don’t chuck that receipt for a couple more weeks.  Anything to help you transition back from Magic.

Looking Your Best at the Disney Parks, pt. 1 Your Feet

Recently a friend posted in my Facebook Feed: “Going to WDW in a couple of weeks, have no clue what to wear to look great but be comfortable!  Any suggestions?”  Immediately my mind went skyward as planning my vacation outfits has become such an intrinsic portion of my planning when going to a Disney Park.  No longer the stuff of sneakers and the standby Disney Tee, Disney Park Wear has evolved.  At least for me.  So here are some tips I have found work great for not only looking your best but remaining cool and comfortable.

Comfortable Foot Wear

Shoes have changed since I was little.  And seriously you are not limited to those very clunky sneakers when walking around the parks, plus I really don’t like it when my feet get hot.  So I recommend finding a couple of very comfortable, yet stylish, sandals in white, neutral or black (Coordinate Colors).  I wear some that look like these:Kenneth Cole Reaction All Glam Flat Sandals in Black (black metallic) - Lyst

Low to no heels along with cushioning will help alleviate back or leg pain and some arch support will help your feet keep from aching each night.  I also tend to go as close to barefoot as possible when vacationing, meaning flat foot sandals with minimal support, like this:

But, your mileage may vary on what you prefer of course. Also, and this is important, be sure to break them in long before you go on your Disney Vacation.  Many a blistered foot has been wrought while walking around the World.  Though bring MoleSkin just in case!

This goes hand in hand with obtaining comfortable foot wear, but get a pedicure.  Yes, I know, how girly.  But, again it comes down to pampering and prepping yourself to be on vacation.  Plus who wants their toesies to look bad in those gorgeous new sandals you just bought?  There are some awesome nail designs out there you can do to celebrate going to a Disney Park or on a Disney Cruise, here are some of my subtle favorites:

Easy design for you Mickey Fans!

Easy design for you Mickey Fans!

Beautiful Ariel design!

Beautiful Ariel design!

Easy to do on your own, retro and fun dots!

Easy to do on your own, retro and fun dots!

Bold Mickey design but easy to do and maintain!

Bold Mickey design but easy to do and maintain!

Perfectly feminine with a hint of Minnie!

Perfectly feminine with a hint of Minnie!

Figment never looked so good!  Especially fitting for you retro-Epcot fans!

Figment never looked so good! Especially fitting for you retro-Epcot fans!

Just a hint of polka dots and Mickey with the ever fashionable French Manicure!

Just a hint of polka dots and Mickey with the ever fashionable French Manicure!

Each of these designs is easy enough to do on your own, or easy for your manicurist/pedicurist to duplicate with minimal effort.  I have found that in making the dots for a Mickey head or for just plain Polka Dots, the best tool is a flat head pin pushed into the top of a Pencil on the eraser end like this:

PolkaDotNails

I do want to stress that the one place you should not skimp is your shoe selection.  Think about it.  You are going to be fairly brutal on your feet for about a week and you need something you can depend on.  Plus, if you get decent foot wear you can wear them long after your vacation, it’s an investment.  I recommend packing almond or coconut butter (and a small one for your parks bag) to pamper your feet with while you tour.

almond_coconut_bbutter__43921.1325462512.1280.1280

This will help them to look and feel their best throughout your day as well as keep them massaged so they don’t get too sore.  Not to mention they sell it at Basin in Downtown Disney!  You can purchase before you go at this link: http://www.basinwhite.com/almond-coconut-body-butter/

Also a little Solar Oil for your nails and toes will keep them feeling fresh and keep from being to battered by all of the walking you are sure to do:

cnd+solar+oil

You can also buy these in small easy to travel with bottles perfect for your purse or travel bag.

What are some ways you take care of your tootsies while you tour the Parks?