Reaching for Greatness ...

Recently, a mom I adore posted this adorable quote pic by greenChild magazine (a periodical that love).  She is terrific, inspirational and stupendous.  Hanging out with her and other moms like her does indeed rock and their advice and council is much appreciated.  For the record, I love the quote and the intent behind it.  But man did it ever get me to thinking in a whole different direction. 

Hanging out with great moms can be so inspiring.  The experience of motherhood and the sisterhood that I feel to other moms is something that I cherish.  It is so relaxing and wonderful to find a group of moms that you can unapologetically hang out with.  Moms with whom you share that unique bond of being a parent and even better when you share similar beliefs about how best to navigate the triumphs and tragedies that abound in your life as Mommy.  But it can also be limiting and lead to "group think". 

So what's wrong with "group think".  On the surface, really not much at all especially if your group is super cohesive and still encourages diversity of thought and if alternative opinions on key topics are welcomed.  But when "group think" starts impacting things like your own critical thinking and creativity in decision making, even hanging out with greatest moms can lead to less than great outcomes and down right dismantling, emotional turmoil.

Surrounding myself with great and greatly diverse people has lead me to some of my favorite mommy moments.  Some of those great people where moms and some where not.  Not to long ago I had a former co-worker stop by for lunch at the house with me and my boys.  As I watched her shocked expression as I changed my sons cloth diaper and put on a disposable diaper.  I hung my head in shame.  I said, "I know I'm only changing 3 cloth a day and truthfully it's1-3 a day depending on the day.  I haven't been able to get my cloth diaper mojo back."  You see, in my circle of moms, I consider myself to only be mildly crunchy and the fact that I almost completely fell of the cloth diaper wagon for a time is embarrassing to me.  At that moment she exclaimed, "You wash that thing ... you wash 1-3 of those things a day ... OMG you are an environmental super-hero but wow that is GROSS!".  Watching her responses and the way she interacted and played with the boys was enlightening.   When my son started deconstructing his toy airplane ... she asked for a screw driver to show him how to get the thing completely apart.  He loved it.  It was a great day.  We played in totally new ways ... and it's safe to say she did too.   

Hanging out with people who have diverse focuses, beliefs and life situations can be hard.  This is especially true if they get overwhelmed with the frantic pace of having preschoolers, tots and babies around.  Hearing opinions that are not supportive of your decisions just plan stinks.  Having to explain your decisions can get old.  Getting parenting advice from someone who has no idea just how enormous of a price would be paid that night for letting a toddler just overload on sugar so we could finish our conversation in peace can be tedious.  But all of these moments are also opportunities, the gift of new perspective. That perspective can either help you to galvanize your beliefs or help you take new action that you hadn't considered. 

Moments of challenge and discomfort inspire creativity and, yes, greatness.  No one enjoys things like those terrible glares that come from passers by in grocery store as your child launches the mother of all tantrums.  But I have come to look at those moments as opportunities to expose myself and my boys to our world.  In those moments we experience the cold hard truth that the world doesn't always appreciate us.  I am given the chance to challenge myself to accept who I am as a mom even when others don't.  I get the opportunity to show my little ones how to handle uncomfortable moments - and - that other resounding truth, while the world my not always embrace them, I will.   

Even though it is valuable and undoubtedly easiest to share the challenges of parenting with great moms who share a similar experience much can be gained and challenged by sharing the experience with others.  So this mama is grateful for the awesome moms and all the wonderfully diverse people in my life who inspire me to reach for greatness!


Belle's Castle is a Beast for Allergy Families!

As you may have figured out.  I am a huge Disney Park fan.  We love heading to the parks throughout the year.  By in large I have found Disney extremely accommodating as it relates to managing our peanut and egg allergies.   With all previous successes in mind, I was thrilled to venture out yesterday to explore our first Disney dining experience at Belle's Castle.  I am sad to report the experience was ... well ... BEASTLY! 

Disney employs an electronic touch screen with a wireless rose to manage your order.  The device does give you the option of entering in special dietary needs.  However, unlike the kiosks at Disney's Contemporary Resort walk-up dining experience these kiosks do not remove options that are unsafe for you to eat from the menu.  They simply replace the picture of that item and replace it with an image that says "customize this order".  When you click on a customize this order option it does not give you a list of the ingredients or modification options for that dish.  You must ask to see a chef.  However, the kiosk does not prompt you to ask for help.  If you click the customize this dish option and do not speak with a chef, who hand writes your changes on the ticket the order may be prepared without regard to your allergy needs. 

We always ask to speak with a chef, as do many of my fellow allergy families.  We had a chef standing at the kiosk with us and even he was confused at times by the prompts.   We were there during walk-up hours and the service staff was extremely scattered, flustered, and lacked that typical Disney Magic that makes you feel welcome and happy.  The staff at this location seemed under-educated about managing special orders and rather than relying on the awesome traditional Disney allergy protocol.  They rely on a machine that while fun has incomplete information as it relates to making special orders that accommodate those with severe food allergies. 

Once you have placed your order, your rose acts like a beacon so that service teams can find your table to deliver your order.  I find this to be super fun and yes enchanting! As delightful and fun as this feat of Disney Imagineering is it did serve up some scary complications for us.  The first round of waiters showed up at the table and placed an order in front of my son that was hastily pulled from a cart that had several other orders that did not look familiar to me on it.  I asked promptly, "Is this the allergy friendly kids order" He looked puzzled.  I picked the plate up quickly.  Which as you can imagine delighted my very hungry toddler.  (N.B. my intense sarcasm)  The waiter than responded with, "Is there an allergy at this table?" In the end we realized that he had placed my nieces order in front of my son.  Then long after everyone else in our party was eating and nearly done staff emerged again.  This time to discuss concerns with what was entered at the kiosk by the chef.  After we finally had our "safe" food order in hand the other members in our party had either already eaten or were starring at VERY cold plates.  Thank goodness we had a snack bag full of allergy friendly goodies for our little ones to munch on while they waited and waited and waited.

The space itself is indeed a magical dining room.  You can choose to dine in Beasts tower complete with the ravaged portrait of the prince and quickly fading rose, the gorgeous dining hall where Belle and Beast took their first famous waltz, or Belle's favorite room the library.  We elected to eat in the Dining Hall and though it was hard to enjoy given the mistakes made by the kitchen and serving staff with our orders it was beautiful.  Snow gently falls outside the far window, the chandeliers provide a soft glow and illuminate a ceiling covered in cherubs.

Long story short Belle's Castle is a BEAST!  Here are some suggestions based on our un-welcoming adventure to the castle if you decide to brave it. 

1. DINE DURING DINER - during dinner hours reservations are required.  Typically staff during sit-down reservation hours are more knowledgeable and prepared to handle special requests.


3. Make sure to communicate with the waiter that magically appears at your table before they place food on your table that you have a severe allergy and the food they are bringing have been sent with special instructions.  (N.B. They push all the food around on enclosed carts with other orders which increases the chance that your order could get contaminated.)

All in all ... I am hopeful that Belle's Castle is just struggling from it's status as the new kid on the block.  But as for me and my family, I am not comfortable trusting them with our children's health for a second time. 

For more quick tips on how to experience a stress free - allergy free trip to WDW check out our quick tips on doing Disney with Food Allergies blog post: http://wastingnothing.blogspot.com/2012/09/doing-disney-with-food-allergies.html

The Wasting Nothing Philosophy

Playing, cooking, reading, exploring, loving, laughing, and making a mess with your little one is NEVER a waste of time! It is priority one! It's not just about getting to know your little one. It's about letting your little one get to know you!