Military Defense Is No Match For RSV

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

With two military officers in his house, my little nephew still wasn't protected against a potentially deadly enemy.  Sterling -- who is not quite three months old -- was diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) last week and spent seven days in the hospital. RSV causes an infection of the lungs and breathing passages and is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children.  Although he is at home now and doing much better, his illness scared the life out of my brother and sister-in-law -- who had to put everything on hold and were in shock over how this tiny being had put their hearts in a tailspin in such a short amount of time.

In adults, RSV may only produce symptoms of a common cold, such as a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, mild headache, cough, fever, and a general feeling of being ill. Yet, in babies (and kids with diseases that affect the lungs, heart, or immune system), RSV infections can lead to other more serious illnesses.  RSV is highly contagious and can be spread through droplets containing the virus when someone coughs or sneezes. It also can live on surfaces (such as countertops or doorknobs) and on hands and clothing -- then, it can be easily spread when a person touches something contaminated.

RSV spreads rapidly through schools and childcare centers, and babies often get it when older kids carry the virus home from school and pass it to them. Almost all kids are infected with RSV at least once by the time they are two years old, and RSV infections often occur in epidemics that last from late fall through early spring. Generally, in healthy kids, it's not necessary to distinguish RSV from a common cold.

Because RSV can be easily spread by touching infected people or surfaces, frequent hand washing is key in preventing its transmission. Try to wash your hands after having any contact with someone who has cold symptoms, and keep your school-age child with a cold away from younger siblings — particularly infants — until the symptoms pass. I've always been of the mindset that everyone gets colds, and with so many people in my house, I rarely get in a wad when someone has a common illness.  However, with the scare we experienced last week with Sterling, I now have a new respect for keeping our germs to ourselves...especially for the sake of those with lesser defense systems.

Getting Ready to Run Disney -- My First 1/2 Marathon

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Long run complete? Check.

Blisters turned into calluses?  Check.

Tu-tu purchased and packed?  Check!

I know it's not exactly the serious runner's check list, but when you're running the Princess 1/2 Marathon at Walt Disney World, a great tu-tu is almost as important as a good pair of socks. Now, the only thing that will complete my quest is to have you follow along with me next Sunday (February 27)!

Nobody does anything quite like Disney and that includes endurance events, too. So, come along beside me -- either in person or virtually by following the steps below. You can sign up to have alerts sent to your computer or smart phone and follow me as I run the Princess 1/2 Marathon Course, or you can follow the steps of the Spectator Tool to watch all of us royal types as we pass through Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom or take our victory lap around Spaceship Earth at Epcot.

For those who are lacking a little pixie dust and can't fly off to the happiest place on Earth, you can sign up for Runner Tracking by receiving my personal times notices, and Disney will "magically" let you know when I cross the finish line...whenever that might be!

After all, fairytales do come mile at a time!

Disney Fantasy Moves a Step Closer to Reality During Keel Laying Ceremony

Friday, February 11, 2011

Today, Disney Cruise Line celebrated the keel laying of the Disney Fantasy at the Meyer Werft shipyard. This is the second of two newly-designed ships that take the family cruise experience to all new heights. I recently sailed on her sister ship -- the Disney Dream -- in January.  She entered service to guests on January 26 of this year.

The keel-laying ceremony is a significant milestone in the ship building process when the first block, or section of the ship, is lowered into the building dock and a coin is placed under the keel for good fortune. Placing the coin was Karl Holz, President of Disney Cruise Line, assisted by Minnie Mouse. (No, that's not me...although I am partial to dressing like a Disney character!)

The Disney Fantasy will offer many of the innovations that the Disney Dream features and brought to the cruise industry for the very first time, including AquaDuck -- the world’s first shipboard water coaster. However, the Disney Fantasy will feature a few new design elements and guest experiences that will give the ship a unique identity all her own.

The 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy will sail week-long Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, Flordia with its maiden voyage scheduled for March 31, 2012.  To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, you can visit, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-DCL-2500 or contact your travel agent. And for your friendly "mom-next-door" advice on all those details, come visit me at! The advice and information is free, and I'd love to help you!

Riding the Waves of Disney Cruise Line

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Since I started answering questions in January on exclusively for Disney Cruise Line (DCL), my little world has been rocking like the waves of the ocean.  With the introduction of the new Disney Dream and new itineraries for the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic, interest for DCL is at an all-time high, and as a result, I've been busy answering all sorts of questions for guests planning itineraries for Europe, the Mexican Riviera, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and for the first time...Alaska!

Yes, the Disney Dream is just that -- dreamy! She's a beautiful, magnificent ship with intricate details and enchantment at every turn. I was privileged to have sailed on her christening cruise, and instead of posting something here, I'll save that story for one of my friends' blogs to whom I owe a promised post! Suffice it to say that the Dream lives up to her name! There were famous people, delicious food, funny stories, and you already know I rode the AquaDuck! (Please notice -- for my parents' sake -- that after more than 20 years of studying ballet, I even point my toes on a water slide!)

(Photo by: Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel)

One of the distinct blessings about serving on the Disney Moms Panel is meeting all the wonderful people. Whether they are guests, cast members, media or fellow moms panelists, you can count on the Disney brand to be surrounded by quality. Such is the case with my new friend, Kristin Ford. She and I met just before "The Golden Mickeys" at the Walt Disney Theatre aboard the Dream last month, and I'm so thankful I spoke up to say "Hi!" She writes for The Orlando Sentinel and is known as "A Mom and the Mouse."  She wrote the piece below, and you can follow her blog and her travels with the link above.

Disney Moms Panelist Andi Sims Offers Advice Tailored To Disney Cruise Line

Walt Disney World Moms Panel member and Disney Cruise Line specialist Andi Sims poses with a VIP on the Disney Dream. (Photo by: Kristin Ford/Orlando Sentinel)

While I was onboard the Disney Dream for its Christening Cruise, I spoke with Andi Sims, a member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel and 2011 Disney Cruise Line Specialist Mom. The moms panel is a group of Disney enthusiasts chosen from thousands of applicants to answer online questions from families who are planning Disney vacations. After being chosen for the moms panel, Sims was selected for the specialist position.
“It’s a pretty good year to be the Disney Cruise Line specialist,” said Sims of Birmingham, Ala.  Although she had only been on one Disney cruise before the Dream set sail, Sims said, “One of the things I bring to the position is the myriad ages of my kids.” At the time of her first cruise, she had children in all the kids’ clubs. Her children are now 7, 10, 13 and 16.

What has impressed you most about seeing the Disney Dream?
They put so much thought into the design. They built their dream ship as you would build your dream home. They took everything up a notch.

What is the most common question you are asked about Disney cruises?
It’s always about what to wear, usually to dinner. A cruise is an extra special vacation, so I like to dress up. But you don’t have to, so I tell people not to stress about it.

What advice do you have for families with kids?
I had one question about whether a family should put their child with Cerebral Palsy in a kids club and, if so, which one. The counselors know what they’re doing and the programs are tailored, so I suggested they put the child where he belonged age-wise. You should definitely bring your kids on the cruise, no matter what their abilities.

Many people who go on cruise vacations have certain things they always bring with them. What are your must-haves for a Disney cruise?
I bring a plastic over-the-door shoe hanger for toiletries; a magnetic message board for the stateroom door; and a tiny purse for evenings.

Any last suggestions?
Take lots of photos of your family because you have great backdrops everywhere.

Come Take a Ride with Me on the AquaDuck Aboard the Disney Dream

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thanks to my buddy, Lou Mongello from WDW Radio, my very first ride on the AquaDuck aboard the Disney Dream is recorded forever and for all time! I truly was nervous anticipating not only what this coaster may do to me (and my garments)...but what was I (and my infamous hair) going to look like at the end -- especially with Lou at the other end with a camera!?

An interesting behind-the-scenes story is that Kyle and Chris Massey of Disney Channel fame went right ahead of me, and as I got off the slide, they turned (as cameras were looking on) to ask me, "How did you like it?" To which I gave them two thumbs up and a, "I loved it!" The camera-man expressed reservation about their talking to me on camera, but then their director noticed my Disney Moms Panel shirt and said, "Oh, it's okay...we already have releases on the Moms Panel!"

Another funny tidbit is that I have somewhat of a reputation of making sure my hair is coiffed, make-up is applied and clothes are pressed and coordinated whenever I'm "working" for Disney. Therefore, it's sort of funny that my most watched clip of my adventures aboard the Dream's Christening Cruise is when I've just run 2 miles, sweaty and without make-up or hair fixed. Of course, that's not to mention that I'm soaking wet at the end of the video! That just goes to show you that I'll do just about anything for Lou and WDW Radio!

My experience aboard the AquaDuck was fantastic, and I hope you have one soon, too. I think the next time I go I definitely want to share the ride with one of my children to enjoy their experience, and I will savor the ride looking out onto the ocean.

If you'd like to ask me a question about Disney Cruise Line, be my guest at!