Hi friends! Summer is upon us and it’s so close I can almost taste the Mickey Mouse ice cream bars! For Orlando residents, it means leaving an hour earlier for work because I-4 will be as packed as Pandora on opening day and they’ll wish they had Harry’s broom to fly away on. Every year, millions of visitors pack Orlando’s many theme parks. 20 million at the Magic Kingdom alone according to 2015 records. This leads to angry tourist cursing at the heat, long lines, and lots crabby individuals who paid a lot to be there and aren’t having any fun. Now, I can’t do anything about ticket prices, but I can let you in on a little secret that all theme park employees know… DON’T GO IN THE SUMMER!

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After working at Disney and Universal for over ten years I have discovered the best times to visit the parks. Get ready to be appalled when I tell you this, but take your kids out of school. Yes I know, “gasp”, the horror, but if you want a holiday that isn’t filled with people you don’t know rubbing their sweaty bodies against you or you want to actually ride the rides, see shows, and meet the characters, then playing hooky is what you need to do.

FALL

My favorite time of the year to visit Disney is the Fall. Specifically because of Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.  It’s one of my favorite annual Orlando every year, and they’ve extended it for 2017! What use to be a short 6 week event, will now be a full 10 weeks! The Food and Wine Festival begins August 31 and ends November 13 and this year Epcot has added more concerts. Another reason why I suggest visiting in the fall is because there are fewer kids. Now don’t get me wrong, you will never come to Disney or Universal and NOT see children, but with the school year in full swing, most parents won’t take their little Einsteins out of class to go on a vacation to Orlando. If you plan on spending a day at the Food and Wine Festival, make sure you save some extra dough, because with it’s growing popularity, the prices have grown as well. I would set aside a couple hundred (no joke) if you plan on spending an entire day there.

Another great thing about going in fall is Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party. Hands down the best Disney ticketed event there is. Fireworks-on point! Trick-or-treating, they got it! Parade-Amazing! Then, there is the new castle show, “Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular.” This show will have all of us “old” millennials jumping up and down like a 5 year old on a sugar high to see our favorite Sanderson Sister take the stage! I love this event, but you will need to buy tickets early because they sell out quickly, Especially on Halloween. You and your kids will love dressing up and galavanting around Magic Kingdom with almost no lines. Parents be warned, Disney is cracking down on the masked and hooded costumes warn by adults.

Fall is also the time for Universals Halloween Horror Nights! Now, I don’t tend to like Halloween Horror Nights, because it’s scary as sh*t, but if thats more your style, then this event is for you. What Universal has done over the years is pretty epic. My friend and I were shocked and awed at a new show introduced last year on the main stage with BMX bikers, skaters, and extreme trickers! They have added new shows and kept their old staples like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Also, now that Diagon Alley is open for HHN, you can escape there if the outside muggle world is to much to handle. Their dates are September 15- November 4 and you can check out the website and ticket prices here.

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Between the Holidays

I’ve had tourists come up to me and say, “well, we thought no one would want to come to Disney for Christmas and so thats why we booked our vacation now and it’s so crowded!” Yep, People think that everyone will be home with their families on Christmas and Thanksgiving morning. But other than July 4th, it’s Magic Kingdom’s biggest day of the year. Magic Kingdom almost always reaches capacity on Dec 25 and they stop letting people in around 10am. So if you want to be part of the Orlando Christmas spirit, and let me say, they do it pretty well, come in between the holidays and never the week of the holiday.

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Disney starts their Christmas event on November 9th, but decorations start going up on November 2nd. If you want to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in one vacation, it’s doable. Click here for ticket prices and dates for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Universal’s Christmas begins the first week of December. If you want to experience the holiday events at both parks I would suggest planning your vacation for the first week of December.  This year Universal will be rolling out a Hogwarts Christmas Party! My old stomping grounds are going to be turned into a truly magical holiday eye feast! This wizard can’t wait to see it!  Click here for a sneak peak of this year’s festivities!

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Between the Holidays and Spring Break

From January to Mid March there’s a break in the crowds. This, for us cast members is when we nestle in and take a well deserved break and/or vacation. I remember one year, right before Christmas, I worked 29 hours straight between Disney and Universal. However, this is also the time for marathon weekends. They aren’t every weekend, but when they happen, the crowds can be pretty big. So make sure you check your calendar before booking those dates. Also, thinking that presidents day, or another 3 day weekend holiday will be a good time to miss the crowds? It’s could be, but it’s mostly filled as well. Any 3 day weekend is still likely to be crowded, but less so than the summer months. I prefer the first week of March, or the first week of May if coming in Spring. Epcot started the Festival of the Arts this year, which pretty much goes straight into Epcot’s Garden Festival. Now, weather during this time isn’t always beach worthy, so be sure to keep that in mind. If you just HAVE to go to the beach on your Orlando vacation, but don’t want to be around the crowds, choose the first week of May. Less people, warmer weather.

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During these times most hotel princes may dip a bit and you can find great deals around Orlando. September is Orlando’s Magical Dining month all around Orlando. You can find great selctions on higher priced restaurnants that you wouldn’t normally visit if on a tight budget.  Those are my tips for how to avoid Peak Season (as we call it) and actually enjoy your visit to Orlando’s theme parks.

*all photos are property of Vaneppsphotography

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My husband and I watched a Netflix documentary called The Human Experiment a few months ago about chemicals in our every day lives, and boy was it eye opening. I can’t even begin to number the amount of every day products that have horrible chemicals in them that affect your body and your unborn child. BPA in plastic, aluminum in deodorant, Chemicals in our makeup. Whats a girl to do? I would love to say I’ve gone 100% natural but lets face it, that is almost impossible. I could start making my own makeup or not wearing any, but thats not realistic. Lets talk about some things we can do to rid some toxins from our bodies that we may not even know are harming us.

  1. Deodorant-

    Deodorant is pretty much an every day staple in my life, but after a friend was diagnosed with a lump in her breast in her 20s, and the doctors linked it to her deodorant, I tried to go natural. The high contents of aluminum found in most deodorant have been linked to breast cancer and some studied suggest even Alzheimer’s. (Thankfully my friend is perfectly healthy with 2 adorable children). Since then, I’ve tried my fair share of natural deodorant and let me tell you what, as much as I’d liked to say “they are awesome!!!” they, in fact, are not. When you’re a dancer in 105 degree heat in Orlando, you need something a little… more. I tried the Toms and Jason’s, and I think they work great for a cooler day when you’re not doing much, but in the Florida sun, it just didn’t cut it. So then I tried a salt stick (You can find those at whole foods) and, I just didn’t think it worked that great either.  So I ended up landing on Kiehl’s Superbly efficient Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant, with I’ve used for a few years, and I like it. But, unfortunately, Kiehl’s does have aluminum in it, but it only has 12% compared to the drug store brands, which have 20%-30% aluminum, so I  was willing to take my chances. But recently my husband started getting massive rashes in his arm pits, (he used Old Spice) so we are looking for something better. A friend recommended Native and we’re excited to start trying it. It’s actually not that expensive either. So I’ll keep you updated on that front.

2. Make-up

If you buy makeup from the drug store then it probably has harmful chemicals in it. I know, I know, it’s cheaper. But, in order for it to last longer, it’s pumped full of chemicals that can not only cause cancer, but can make you infertile! As a performer I’ve gone through a huge make-up upgrade. When I was 17, Cover Girl all the way for dance recitals. But after I graduated college and was performing in the hot sun every day of the week in Orlando, I decided to up my make-up budget. (The unfairness of it all is that female performers make WAY less money than our male counterparts, and we’re covering our face in toxic chemicals…but, that’s off topic.) So, there are tons of natural beauty products out there for you! Tart and Bare Minerals come up often when searching for natural beauty products. Sephora has an online store dedicated to natural Make-Up. Also Check out this site, www.vegan.com for cruelty free vegan beauty products!  It can get expensive, but if you kick that Starbucks habit (which you should do anyways if you’re pregnant) I’m sure you can afford some toxic free makeup!

3. Tampons

Most ladies don’t think about tampons being hazardous to their long-term health, but, tis true. According to a q&a session on goop.com with Maggie Ney N.D- you can read the whole thing here– Tampons are made from cotton, which is sprayed with pesticides, which can be absorbed into the vagina, and into our blood stream. This causes a whole host of problems as small as allergies to as big as cancer and infertility. The honest company just rolled out a new line of tampons with a 100% biodegradable plastic applicator! What?! That is crazy. (check it out here) Some organic cotton tampon lines even go as far as sending you a new box every 28 days so you’re ready when your monthly friend pays a visit. Honestly, I think this is the way of the future!

4. BPA

BPA is found in plastic that we use almost every day. Back in the early 2000s, parents were horrified to find that it was in their children’s baby bottles! Almost every plastic baby bottle had BPA in it. It’s also found in every day plastics that contain food and drinks.   90% of us have BPA in our bodies right now. Why is this such a big deal? BPA studies are still young, but have been linked to cancer, hormonal changes in fetuses, and some studies show it affects the brain of a growing child! Do you remember those commercials that were playing for years about High Fructose Corn Syrup being good for you? (I still fume over those commercials!) Well that’s kind-of what the plastic companies are trying to do here. They are saying that there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that BPA is bad for you. Luckily, we don’t have to buy into that bull! Just use glass containers for storing food and look for BPA free bottles (Pretty much every bottle on the market is BPA free now, but if you really want to be sure, you can buy glass bottles like LifeFactory’s or if glass isn’t your thing, Tommy Tippee Close to Nature Bottles.  Want to make sure that your plastic is BPA free? Look for the number inside of the recycle triangle.

Numbers to avoid

#3-Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

#6-Polystyrene (PS)

#7- Polycarbonate-This chemical is the one most related to the hormonal dispute. It can be found in Sports bottles, baby bottles, and most commonly the 5-gallon water cooler jugs! (I know I drink from this every day at work!!)

5. Avoid Sugar!

Sugar could be one of the hardest things to avoid, and is most likely linked to the biggest human killers. I don’t want my baby coming out a sugar addict, which is what the sugar companies want from our precious younglings. It’s in everything you eat from your ketchup, cup of low-fat yogurt to your morning Starbucks latte. The amount of sugar we eat in a day is slowly killing us. Sugar is linked to diabetes, obesity, cancer and new studies even show infertility!!  The huge sugar corporations are trying to fight the American people’s right to know whats in your food! Have you ever wondered why your fat-free yogurt tastes so good?  There’s sugar in it! If you really want to rid your body of harmful toxins, start with sugar. Start reading the labels on boxes, especially things you buy for your children. The sugar companies know that if they put sugar in juice boxes, with bright colors, kids will drink that shit up. Literally. Thats how they hook them for life.

Have you ever wondered why there is no daily percentage by the sugar line? It’s because our daily intake is supposed to be less than 9 teaspoons for an average size man (about 24g)  a day of natural sugar. Do you know how many grams are in a banana? 21g of sugar. Do you know how many are in a serving of Soda? 38.9 grams!! 38.9 grams of sugar are in ONE serving of soda! The sugar companies don’t want you knowing what your daily intake of sugar should be, because your consumption of 1 soda maxes you way past your daily intake! Just writing this gets me fuming! How dare they! How dare they hide this from us!

Just from cutting unhealthy sugars from your life you are saving yourself and your unborn child from cancer, obesity, diabetes, ADHD and a whole string of other problems that go with eating and drinking sugar. I could go on for pages and pages about how awful sugar is for you but you have probably heard it all before, and you’re probably thinking, but how do I cut sugar?

Now, I’m not perfect—That is why this blog is called Perfectly Imperfect. I love a cupcake just like the next person, but after cutting sugar for while, it doesn’t seem as appetizing as it used to be. Doesn’t mean I’m not gonna eat it though.

1.Start by cutting soda. I cut soda when I was 15 because I suffered from really bad migraines, and cutting soda almost got rid of them completely. But you will suffer from migraines for about a week after cutting soda. It’s a side effect of cutting something you’re addicted to. But once you go off soda for a month, you’ll notice you don’t crave it anymore, and when you do drink it, it tastes weird. La Croix is what I replaced my Vodka drinks with. Refreshing and no sugar!

2. Stay on the outer aisles of the grocery store. I only go through the middle if I need something specific. I skirt the outside and pretty much only that. It helps keep un-needed food out of my cart and out of my home. If I really want something like ice cream, I buy it, put it in my freezer, and 99% of the time, I forget it put it there. Or I’ll have one bite and put it back.

3. Read the labels! Fat-free isn’t always healthy. Back in the 70s and 80s fat got a bad name. Even avocados were on a do not eat list! It was based on bull reasearch, but we won’t get into that. So in order to make fat-free things taste good, companies added sugar.  Still do. Read the labels on your yogurt and other “fat-free, all natural” things. You really want to try and stay under 11g of sugar. I don’t eat a lot of yogurt, but when I was pregnant I couldn’t get enough of it. I liked Siggy’s yogurt, which you can find almost anywhere. If you read the label they have lower sugar than most of the other yogurts out there.

4. Be aware of “sweeteners”. So, sweeteners are now the go to thing. I don’t like it, and I don’t buy it. I drink my coffee black, and I try to stay away from anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup. I just don’t trust them. The whole lot! If you really need some sugar in your life, try raw honey from your local farmers market (it supports local businesses and helps with your seasonal allergies).

I know this is a short list, but I could go on for a whole book! In fact, there are tons of books out there written about these many topics. But I wouldn’t start freaking out and living nomad lifestyle just yet. Even little steps can help to make our bodies that much healthier for a perfect pregnancy.

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Hi friends, or whoever is reading. My husband and I have anode for a project that we will be working on. So for the moment my posts my be fewer for now, but good news! Even though it was 8 days late, I started my period. This is my second period since I lost the baby. It may seem weird to blog about, but trying to get your body back on schedule when you’re wanting to get pregnant again is so important for tracking your fertility. At least for me. I’m kind of a bundle of emotions, and I’m hoping my hormones and everything will get back on track.

 

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Thats the question we keep asking each other. When should we try again? My body is not completely back to normal. I’ve had 1 period since I lost my baby in February. My husband wants to wait until we take a possible trip in October. I’m worried that waiting that long will only cause longer delay because what if we get pregnant again and the baby has Meckel Gruber and then we have to start IVF.

There are so many thoughts I struggle with on a daily basis about all that will have to go into us trying again. We just moved to New York, with a possible move somewhere else in December. I liked my doctor in Atlanta. I trust her. I don’t want to find someone else. I worry no one will take care of me the way she did. I already had my Orlando Dr drop the ball. I don’t want that to happen again. Then, the CVS testing which will be done at 9 weeks. How will this go about for payment with new bills and laws being passed? Ugh so many things. Sometimes I wonder how 16 year old girls “accidentally” get pregnant, because I feel like as a 30 year old, its so freaking hard and stressful!!

But I digress. I don’t know what plan of action to take. My husband doesn’t want to go on a big vacation with me being pregnant, and I don’t want to put it off that long…I guess this will have to be continued.

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