It’s been a long time since I had time to write. We’ve officially be Florida residents 3 months and it feel like a lifetime. Everything with our house was the absolute cluster we expected it to be. The dust has settled and we’re enjoying our house more. Being close to Disney is a dream. There is so much to do in Orlando. I can’t wait to share it with you all!
I can’t wait to start blogging again for y’all. In the meantime please enjoy these scavenger hunts I created for Sharkie. Each park has golden statues for the 50th anniversary.
You can save them images and print off at 88% for a full page. We use star stickers Favorites
Last month we lost our Guinea pig Jacque. He was five years old. I knew he would probably be Sharkie’s first heartbreak, but I thought we had a couple more years with him.
It’s hard because she’s old enough to know he is gone, but not old enough to really understand death. She’s had a hard time time with it, but here are some things that worked for us.
1) If you can let your child say goodbye. I took Jacque to the emergency vet right after Sharkie’s bedtime. I had a feeling he wouldn’t be coming back home from the emergency vet, so I made sure she said goodbye and snuggled him before I put her to bed.
2) Don’t hide the truth. I didn’t get back from the vet until after 1 am. Sharkie had been restless so she was up when I got home and asked about him. It would have been easier to say let’s talk about it in the morning, but I couldn’t lie to her. So I told her the truth.
3) Decide what you want to tell your child before talking with them. Try to deal with your own emotions first if you can. This way you’re calm when talking with your child. We decided to tell Sharkie that Jacque was very very sick and the doctors couldn’t help him, so he went to Heaven to be with his brother Gus Gus (our other Guinea pig who died in 2018). That he loved her and he’s watching over her. No matter how many times she asks to talk about Jacque we tell her the same things.
4) Be prepared to have the same conversation over and over. Try to be patient. Even though they’re asking the same questions over and over, they’re just trying to deal with their grief.
5) Help them heal. We sent Sharkie flowers from Jacque. We got a couple books on dealing with the loss of pets. Now a month later we’ve worked up to going to look at Guinea pigs at Petsmart. She wants another one, but I’ve been explaining just because it’s a red and white pig it’s not him. For now she just enjoys going to see them.
Losing a beloved pet is hard for anyone. Really the only thing that helps is time. But these tips helped Sharkie. If you’re in this unfortunate position. I hope they help you too.
To be honest it was only on mine in a “see all 50 states way”, but surprisingly we had a great time in Charleston, WV over the 4th.
5 reasons to put the Mountain State on your travel list.
1) The people are so incredibly nice. I mean nicer than Disney Cast Members. Everyone we met from people in the service sector to random folks on the street was so nice. Honestly, dealing with pleasant people is the best. Everyone was so friendly and so very kind to Sharkie.
2) The Weather! It’s been hot as hades in Lexington. It felt like summer, but enjoyable in WV. Warm, but not hot and no humidity. When I got out of the car back in Lexington I wanted to melt.
3) Cute and Walkable downtown, we stayed at @embassysuitescwv which was beautiful and super clean. We were in walking distance of pretty much everything we wanted to do. We never got back on the interstate once we checked in. We walked to @charlestontowncenter, we were in walking distance of several amazing restaurants, and some cute stores. The whole vibe I got walking through downtown was very 70s. Which my vintage soul enjoyed.
4) Speaking of food, we were pleasantly surprised to find so many dog friendly restaurants. We traveled with Tia and sometimes it’s hard to find places, but @blacksheepwv and @piesandpints both are. Several others are as well, but these are the ones I called. We are ate Black Sheep and the food was really good! I recommend the Nashville Hot Chicken Burrito.
5) The Capitol is beautiful. I love historic and state buildings and the WV state Capitol is one of the prettiest I’ve seen. It’s definitely worth the walk around and across from the river which is beautiful as well! I harbored my own prejudices about WV being a backwater. But I was glad to be wrong.
We did a ton in our 36 hour trip to Charleston, but the atmosphere still made it so laid back and relaxing. We had a great time. It’s a very affordable city to visit, perfect for a long weekend.
*Disclaimer* This was a hosted experience, but all opinions and experiences expressed here are my own.
I grew up semi local to Dollywood. Being from Asheville I knew tons of people who had been. From what they said I was under the impression the majority of the park was thrill rides.
I’m thrilled to report that nothing could be further from the truth. Dollywood is so much more than rides and there was no shortage of activities for Sharkie.
The ride measuring station is the most genius thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve only seen it at Dollywood. Once inside the park head to your left. Just past the Emporium gift shop you will see this area.
An attendant will measure your child and provide them with a color coding wristband. This completely eliminates measuring at the beginning of each ride. Saving so much time and toddler sanity.
The bands are color coordinated so you know exactly which rides to look for. The attendant also gave us a chart to carry around with us so we knew where everything was.
I didn’t! We downloaded the app when we got there and from ride times to food options it was super helpful! Don’t worry about battery drainage. There are tons of recharging stations throughout the park!
Let’s talk about rides. There were so many options for Sharkie, but her favorite area was Wildwood Grove so that’s where we stayed.
Themed to nature and the mountains the entire area was geared toward younger children. Sharkie who measured in the lowest (grey) height category could do almost all the rides in this section.
Great Tree Swing
Black Bear Trail
Frogs and Fireflies
The Mad Mockingbird
Sharkie’s top 5 recommended rides. The wait times are very toddler friendly as well. We didn’t wait longer than 10 minutes for anything.
Don’t worry if your little isn’t ride ready yet. There is plenty of other stuff to do. There are a couple of options to get wet throughout the park like the Wildwood Creek area so I recommend bringing a swimsuit or a change of clothes.
Sharkie loves birds, so Eagle Mountain was right up her alley. She’s enjoyed looking at all the beautiful birds.
While not ever toddler can enjoy a museum, Sharkie who is a fashion lover, loved the Chasing Rainbows exhibit.
We chose to eat at Red’s for dinner and this was the one experience we had that was lacking. The service was average. 3/4 of the soda fountains were broken. The condiment bar was empty. We were pretty disappointed by our dinner, although the food was decent I can’t recommend this restaurant.
You can’t take a toddler to a theme park without getting a little treat and a souvenir or two. We finished our day with a visit to the candy shop and it didn’t disappoint. I came home with a bag of taffy.
I was pleasantly surprised with the gift shop prices! Very affordable for a theme park!
I’m so glad we got the chance to experience Dollywood. It’s not just for the thrill rider. It’s for anyone in your family and it truly is a blast! We recommend going if you get the chance.
Chase and I both come from poorer backgrounds. Money management wasn’t a strength for us in the beginning, because we had never had money to manage. We were also very young when we got together.
During the first 3 years of our relationship we racked up debt. Chase was relocated to Minnesota and we spent a lot of money traveling back and forth to see each other. In 2015 we got married, another expensive endeavor, and we still didn’t make a lot of money.
In 2016 Chase was relocated to Kentucky and we were thrilled. Not only would we be closer to family, the cost of living was so much cheaper than Minneapolis. We knew our debt had to go before we could have a baby or buy a house. So we set out to pay off our debt.
The first thing you need to do is get a clear idea of how much debt you have. Including separate accounts your partner may not know about. This can be a difficult conversation, but it’s important to be honest and open.
Make a list. For us we had a credit card with a small amount, two with larger amounts, two car payments, one medical bill, and two student loans.
We used the snowball method. Paying the minimum amount on all debts until paying off the smallest one, then applying that money to the next smallest one. Any extra money we received, like for selling something or as a gift was also applied to the first debt.
Not everyone gets a Christmas bonus. But Chase gets them with his company. We always picked a debt to pay with them. Once bonus money goes into the account it’s easy to spend it. We discussed before it came exactly what we wanted to do with it. Once it was deposited it immediately went to debt.
Paying off debt is a long process it doesn’t happen overnight. We started doing this in 2016. We paid off our last debt: one of Chase’s student loans in 2020. Keep chipping away and don’t get discouraged.
Now for my tips that are more unique to my family. I’m an “extra” person and I love to shop. I spend money on gifts, themed play dates, and other extras. But that all adds up and we didn’t want to fall right back into debt. I also didn’t want to give those habits up. They bring joy to myself and others.
So I sought out ways to be extra on the cheap side and here’s what I do.
1) I started a side hustle. This isn’t going to be something everyone can do, but it’s more accessible than you think. I started a blog and a reselling business on Poshmark. But it can be something as simple as selling old items on Facebook marketplace and saving that cash for fun stuff.
2) Speaking of Facebook Marketplace. I make our items work for us. If we’re done with something I always sell it. Whether on marketplace, eBay, Poshmark, consignment , the local mom page, or at a yard sale I always sell the items we’re done with.
3) Shop Used. Not only is this more economical. It’s so much better for the environment. We recently redid Sharkie’s room. I shopped on Facebook marketplace and Goodwill and was able to re-do the room for 1/3 of new.
Yard Sale Pages
These are all great places to start looking for great items.
4) Shop Off The Wall Places. I know some people are off put by places like TJ Maxx. They can be disorganized, but I find the best stuff for the best prices.
Ollie’s Bargain Outlet
5) Shop Ahead. This one requires a little extra room and money but if you have both this one will save you a lot money in the long run. When I see sales or find something great but maybe seasonal I go ahead and get it and hang onto it.
Every family is unique, but this is what helped us pay off our debt. The other tips help me maintain my “extra-ness” without breaking the bank.
Currently the only debt we have is our mortgage. Hopefully we can keep to our plan and remain debt free. It’s so easy to get into debt; but getting out is 100% worth it.
June is a busy month. Most are getting out of school, it’s a popular wedding month, summer has started, graduations galore, and of course Father’s Day!
I love Father’s Day. I love any excuse to celebrate. I love celebrating Chase and the wonderful father he is to Sharkie and our fur kids. I love watching others celebrate their amazing dads, granddads, uncles, or other amazing men in their life. But it always makes me a little sad, I don’t have a dad to celebrate.
Maybe you don’t either, if you don’t this post is for you.
Growing up I knew my Dad loved me. Problem was he could only love me and my brother in a way that was convenient for him. Unfortunately my dad was a 3rd generation alcoholic.
As a kid I knew my dad would be there for the important stuff. When you’re little that means holidays and birthdays. I only realized as an adult my mom had probably both begged and threatened to make that happen.
As I got older he was less and less reliable for even those occasions. Eventually my mom gave him a shape up or ship out ultimatum. Like so many addicts he left when I was 8ish. I saw him a few times a year until I was 16, I haven’t seen him since. My parents divorced after I graduated high school.
I have never admitted to a single non familial soul in my life that my dad was an alcoholic who choose booze over his family. But I think it’s important to break stigmas. In 2021 we still don’t discuss alcoholism as much as we should. It still carries a stigma. Just as being a fatherless child does.
Everyone thinks they have the best mom on the planet but I actually do. My mom is the most amazing parent. She never taught me to hate my dad, never once vented to me how he treated her, she shielded me from a childhood of pain. All while teaching me to love, remember the good times, but to stand up for myself and know you don’t have to put up with things that aren’t right. My mom was patient and taught me that while alcohol isn’t evil, it’s addictive. Alcoholism can hereditary. Whenever I think about booze I thank Heaven for a mama who taught me that it was okay to enjoy in moderation, but like any drug it was warrants caution. My brother and I have broken 3 generations of alcoholism and her thoughtful parenting is 100% responsible.
When you grow up in a bad situation it can be so easy to blame yourself for what happened. As you grow up it can also be easy to blame your shortcomings on things you feel like you missed in childhood. For me I missed out on a normal Dad. Neither is the case.
It took me a while to get here. But I’m in a place now where I’m at peace being estranged from my dad. After Sharkie was born he wanted to communicate again. I was okay with doing so via social media because I didn’t want any regrets on my heart. I gave him a chance and he blew it.
That’s okay. When people, even family, show their true colors, believe them.
Sometimes I remember the good things about my dad. If he was home he usually wasn’t too busy to play board games. He made me pancakes on the weekends. Sometimes we played catch in the yard. It can be healthy to remember good in a person. No situation is 100% black or white. Not yours, or mine.
Still, a few happy memories aren’t enough to erase the hurt and the pain he caused. I don’t want a relationship with my dad, but Father’s Day is still hard.
The good news: Father’s Day isn’t exclusively for Dads. When I was little I had 3 amazing men to celebrate.
My amazing Grandaddy. He was always there for us. He took me for rides on the four wheeler. Came to my elementary school for birthday parties. He and my Nana took me on $100 shopping spree at Walmart every birthday. He gave me my first car, and nobody adjusted my side view mirrors better.
We’re as different as night and day. Eight years older than me, most people don’t even know I have a sibling. We fought like cats and dogs. But I could always count on him. Fixed my car, helped me with chores, always there for advice.
Lastly, my moms brother. The most amazing uncle ever. He sent me a card on every occasion. He always slipped me a little money, and bought all my favorite snacks.
Father’s Day can be hard. Growing up fatherless is hardly Having an alcoholic family member is hard. Both can come with such stigma. But you’re not alone. Others can relate. If sharing my story can help one of you reading, then it was worth sharing.
You are still worthy and chances are you have other remarkable men to celebrate. Whether it’s your husband, uncle, grandfather, brother, or step father.
If you’re like so many Americans you’ve got the travel bug. Being home all last year has us all itching to go somewhere.
Some may not be ready to fly yet, or maybe you’re just partial to road trip, our family is. My husband is tall and planes are uncomfortable. Plane tickets for three are expensive, so we road trips 95% off the time.
We always pack a tablet, but I try to keep Sharkie off it as much as I can. She doesn’t need 13 hours of screen time. So I always pack a road trip kit.
When we head to Disney next week we’re also traveling with my 7 year old nephew. So I made a boy box too! Honestly preparing these before a trip is super fun. Sharkie helped and we spent the better part of a day getting them together.
Dollar Tree, Five Below, and Target One Spot are great places to stock up. For Sharkie’s box I added this microfiber cleaning cloth (we’re gonna use it as a puppet) $1 at Dollar Tree, a bag of candy $1 at Dollar Tree. We also got the small Disney figure at Dollar Tree. They almost always have these in a ton of choices and they’re great for car play.
We already had the tiny magna doodle, but it was $1 at One Spot. The coloring pads are $3.
For my nephew I packed a lot of similar things so we didn’t have any arguments, but age appropriate since they’re 4 years apart.
Since for my nephew this is a once in a lifetime trip I tried to make it a little extra. Y’all know I love to be extra. So I got each kid a Disney Parks Wishable from Five Below for $5.
Hope these kits help you plan an awesome summer road trip with your kiddos. Whether you’re going to Disney or somewhere else.
So you’re thinking about getting a puppy. Maybe you just got one.
Tia is 10 months old today, but since she’s as big as a horse, sometimes I feel like she’s not a puppy. But in reality she’s growing up, but still a baby.
I am by no means a dog expert, but I wanted to share what worked for us.
Growing up I had a plethora of animals so I thought I was prepared for a puppy. Although my family hadn’t had one since 1998.
Since Tia is my second child I prepared for her like I did for Sharkie. I read several puppy books. I highly recommend The Puppy Primer.
Be open to speaking with whoever you’re adopting from. We got Tia from a breeder because I wanted a golden for their reputation with children. After waiting a year for one to be available via rescue we picked a breeder.
Our breeder recommended @originalsnugglepuppy and this was game changing. Tia slept with her puppy and LOVED. It comforted her at night and she never cried.
Set your puppy up for success the way you would a child. I removed things from her access I didn’t want her to bother. I puppy-proofed our home by utilizing baby gates and hiding cords.
We crate train and we did graduated crate method. Dogs feel safer in a crate that is small, but gives them room to turn around and sit up. Tia went through 3 crates before we got the adult size. If we’re gone or sleeping she’s in the crate. The crate should always been open and become a safe space for your dog. Tia crates herself if we annoy her.
As a puppy I watched her like a hawk so I could stop any behavior I didn’t want. If I couldn’t fully have my eyes on her she went in the crate.
This method has kept her from chewing cords, shoes and furniture because I nipped those urges in the bud. Be sure you have lots of chew toys, especially with a golden. When you scold for chewing something inappropriate immediately give an appropriate item.
While these are my top tips for a new puppy it’s not all inclusive. If you have any questions let me know. Don’t be afraid to call in experts. While I taught Tia “go crate”, “sit”, “fetch”, and “catch” we took her to school to learn more commands. If you’re local I recommend @petsmart Brannon Crossing.
Goldens live up to their reputation. This sweet girl is so amazing with Sharkie.
This is a hard post for me to write, but I believe in using my experience to help others with their struggles. Did you know approximately 15.3 million people are affected by Hyperhidrosis in the United States alone?
So what is Hyperhidrosis? Hyperhidrosis is characterized as excessive sweating outside of “normal” sweaty activities like exercise or hot weather. Hyperhidrosis can affect the scalp, hands, armpits, feet, or face. A person worn Hyperhidrosis can have one area affected or all of the above areas affected.
I remember on my very first day of middle school I chose a bright orange glitter softball tee from Limited Too. I thought I was super cool. I didn’t realize I was sweating through in the armpits until some girls in my class questioned me about it. (Such typical middle school girl behavior) I was so embarrassed. I’m affected by Hyperhidrosis only in my armpits. I’ve always been a fashion lover, but from that day on my fashion choices changed.
I hoped it was something temporary, some byproduct of puberty that I would grow out of. But by the time I was in high school, I was still dealing with it. Back then there weren’t as many options, and nothing over the counter. I eventually got a prescription strength deodorant. This one required application at night and irritated the crap out of my skin. It didn’t work.
By the time I was a senior in high school, my situation was better, but it wasn’t perfect. I became a little more confident in what I could wear, but still spent a ton of time with my arms pinned to my side. No deodorant helped.
Fortunately products for Hyperhidrosis became somewhat more common when I was a upperclassman in college and I found Secret and Degree clinical strength to be effective 75% of the time for me. Still 25% of the time I was dealing with the stigma of Hyperhidrosis.
All of my general doctors seemed to believe this was good enough treatment and since this wasn’t a pressing medical issue I should just live with it. Dissatisfied. But I began to believe this too. This wasn’t going to kill me and I just needed to deal.
It’s been suggested that Botox shots can help Hyperhidrosis afflicted areas. But at the time this wasn’t something I could afford.
5 years ago I went to the dermatologist for my annual skin check. (Definitely do this if you’re out in the sun a lot or prone to moles like I am) I finally got up the courage to tell her what I had been dealing with, worried that she would be another doctor who didn’t think it was a big deal.
Fortunately, she was a good doctor who suggested a prescription pill I could take and y’all that was life changing. While there is no pill specifically for Hyperhidrosis. Robinul, which is what I take was intended for stomach ulcers, but a side effect is it dries up glands.
Worked like a charm for me. Sweating is still an important body function. You don’t want to stop it completely, and on this drug I still sweat in situations where I need to like hot temps and working out.
If you’re dealing with Hyperhidrosis, you’re not alone. I’m talking about this today to break the stigma and raise awareness in this as a valid medical condition. If you’re faced with doctors who don’t think it’s a big deal keep trying until you find someone who cares.
Hyperhidrosis affects your mental health and that is a big deal!
Whether you have wanderlust in your heart or just want to raise a child who does, travel is something that doesn’t come easy to most children. Especially young children.
As a mother of one I’m not a parenting expert. But I do have a child who loves to travel and I wanted to share what works for us.
Firstly, manage your expectations. If your child has never traveled before the first trip probably won’t go perfectly, and that’s okay. Children, especially toddlers are creatures who thrive on routine.
Sharkie has been traveling since she was 3 months old. The biggest key for raising a traveler is repetition. The more you go, the more your child will be able to handle. Going on vacation frequently probably isn’t feasible, try visiting or simply staying the night with family to get your child used to nights away from home.
Don’t be afraid to pack everything you need. I drive an F150. When Sharkie was an infant that flatbed was full. I packed anything I thought I’d need to make it feel like routine. Everything I used at home at any point during the day. I even packed her play mat when we traveled.
Thank Heaven she’s a toddler now and needs way less, but I still pack everything we use at home during a regular day.
Stay on routine as much as you can. Choose hotels close enough to where you’ll be to go back for naps, outfit changes, or anything else you need. Mimicking a day at home keeps your child happy and pleasant.
Pack familiar foods. I learned this the hard way, but Sharkie eventually gets tired of eating Disney food. I pack fruit, goldfish, and other familiar snacks. Since I started doing this she gets less stomach aches and our days are much smoother.
Practice social situations. If you don’t do much in your own city, your child may not know how to act in social situations. I take Sharkie to stores and events here in Lexington, but we rarely eat out. Before we travel we typically do one “practice” table meal at a restaurant so we can work on table manners. Try a local museum or park, or other places where your child may have to wait and be around others so they know what to expect on vacation.
Kids are unpredictable. You can set them up perfectly and they could still blow up on a trip. They’re their own person after all. But I have found that starting early and setting them up for success makes them pleasant little people who enjoy seeing new things.
Don’t be afraid to travel with a young child or even an infant. They can enjoy it, even if they don’t remember it; you will.
Interested in what to pack for your child? Click here.