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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A letter to my 15 year old self

As I come up on yet another birthday and I prepare to turn another year older I got to thinking. There are a lot of things I wish I could tell my younger self that might have made me a better person today. So I have decided to write a letter to my 15 year old self. Here it is:

Dear 15 year old me,

     Hello it is me, which is you from the future. There are some things I need to tell you to prepare yourself for the future and hopefully make you a better person. First, save yourself for marriage. You may think sex is all fun and games, but it isn't. Save yourself the heartache that is to come and just wait. It will be worth it to wait. Consequences come along with not waiting and it just isn't worth it. Just save yourself and your wedding night will be amazing. Second, participate in more activities in school. Have a little fun and enjoy school and activities while you can. Get a little experience in different areas and have fun in the process. Don't be afraid of trying new activities, you never know what you will like. School will be over before you know it and you will wish you had done more. Next, remember once you are 18 you are in charge of your life. Don't let others try to run what you do. Focus on yourself and making yourself happy. You aren't here to please everyone else. You have to remember to take care of yourself. Also, life will throw you curves but don't be afraid just be prepared and you will make it through. There are some tough times ahead, but remember I am here to write you so you will make it, despite the times you don't know if you will. Next, work a little bit harder in college. You will eventually graduate, but maybe it won't take quite so long. Just try to focus a little more. I know it will be hard, but you can do it. Lastly, enjoy yourself. Life is too short. Spend time with family as much as you can, losing them will be so hard. Hug grandpa for me, I miss him so much. Tell everyone how much you love them, because you never know when you won't be able to anymore.

                                                                                                                                   27 year old me

Monday, October 30, 2017

What to pack for your Disney vacation....with extras for special needs

Here is a list of items to be sure to pack for your Disney trip

1. smartphone or tablet loaded with the My Disney Experience App
2. camera
3. chargers for all electronics
4. magic bands
5. print out with fast passes and any reservation times
6. park tickets
7. flight info/tickets
8. hotel info

1. comfortable shoes for walking the parks
2. flip flops or sandals for the pools
3. swim suits
4. hoodie or light jacket in case it gets chilly
5. poncho for pop up rain or wet rides
6. an outfit for each day tshirts are usually best pants or shorts depending on time of year
7. underwear and socks\
8. dressy outfit for nice restaurants
9, pjs

Health and Beauty/Extras
1. Sunglasses
2. Sunscreen-for adults and kids, make sure its waterproof
3. misting fan for hot days
4. backpack for the parks
5. pennies and quarters for the pressed penny machines
6. trading pins
7. aloe for sunburns
8. any special shampoo, soap items you use/want
9. brush/comb
10. water bottles
11. hand sanitizer
12. bandaids
13. benedryl, tylenol
14. toothbrush and toothpaste
15. lotion
16. deodorant
17. mouthwash
18. soap/body wash
19. kids shampoo
20. makeup and makeup remover

Special Needs
1. Travel letter from your doctor for emergencies
2. any medicines you take- make sure you have enough for each day you will be there plus some extra in case of emergency
3. any equipment you may need such as feeding pumps, feeding bags, syringes, extra buttons, breathing machines, glucose meters, anything you use every day or may need
4. extra batteries for equipment
5. insurance cards
6. wheelchair if needed
7. handicap placard
8. weighted blanket if needed
9. if you have a service animal, anything they may need (food, bowl, vest, leash, etc)

For babies and kids
1. stroller- there are rentals but it's good to have one you are comfortable with and that stands out
2. autograph books and pens for signing
3. diapers and wipes
4. swim diapers
5. pool floaties
6. snacks for travel
7. activities for travel
8. pacifiers
9. bottles and formula, sippy cups
10. baby food
11. bibs
12. plenty of clothes
13. blanket

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Why this was one of the best moments of my life

Growing up I got to go to Florida every year for spring break. I had grandparents in Florida that I got to go visit. Most of those years I would get to go to Disney. When I was growing up the characters were able to walk around and you never knew who you were going to see. It was truly magical and I got to see pretty much all of the characters in my years of going. Of course, Mickey and Minnie are the icons of Disney and the characters pretty much everyone wants to see. I am not even sure how many times I got to meet Mickey and Minnie, but I know I have plenty of pictures from my visits.

Once I had kids of my own I knew I wanted them to be able to have the experiences I had growing up. This includes getting to go to Disney and meeting the characters I got to meet.Things are different now, with the characters having specific locations and times to meet them and long lines to have to stand in. It didn't feel quite as magical to me, but I still wanted them to have the experience. i got the privilege of taking my older 2 kids to Disney this year. One thing on my list to do was to make sure they got to meet Mickey and Minnie. When our time came to finally see them, it was magical. I myself felt like a kid again, an felt the excitement. It truly was magical and was one of the best moments of  my life.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Black Hairspray

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Advice for special needs parents just starting their journey from veteran special needs parents

As a veteran special needs mom there are a lot of things I know now that I wish someone told me when we were starting our journey 5 years ago. This got me to thinking and decided to come up with a list of advice for special needs parents just starting their journey from veteran special needs parents.

1. Be your child's advocate. You are their voice. You know what is best for them, and so very often we have to fight for what is right for them. If insurance denies something you know they need, fight it. If you don't trust a diagnosis, ask for second maybe even third opinions. If you think something is wrong, you are likely right so don't take no for an answer. IEP meetings may become your worst nightmare, so go in prepared.

2. If something feels off, trust your instinct.  This comes in from many areas. A lot of our kids require nursing in homes. Sadly too many times something happens that could have been prevented, or something that we may never suspect. If something doesn't feel right about a nurse, or any other doctor, specialist or anyone who cares for your child, don't be afraid to ask for a new caregiver. You are in charge. The same goes for your child's health. There have been times where we went to a doctor or even the ER to be told everything was fine and then a day or 2 later end up hospitalized because everything wasn't fine. If you think something is off you know your child better than anyone else.

3. The horrible days after a new diagnosis do get better. Those first few days after learning about a diagnosis, especially if it is a first, can be hard. You may feel lost, sad, overwhelmed, and you may wonder why. That is normal. Let yourself grieve, but know that there are brighter days ahead. There are people out there who know what you are going through and they will welcome you with open arms. A big help for me was to join Facebook groups, see if there are local groups through your hospital and just find people you can talk to and ask questions of. Once you get over the initial sadness you probably will have a LOT of questions. Even almost 5 years into our journey any new diagnosis we get is still hard, but you learn to cope a little better each time.

4. Get ready for a ton of unsolicited advice from "experts." There are a ton of people out there who think they know the cures or fixes for everything. I can't even count how many times someone has told me to just change their diets or feed them something specific or something along those lines and that it will fix them. Also so many times I have had people blame problems on vaccines. Although there are kids who have been affected by vaccine injury, not all problems are caused by vaccines. People who's dads, moms, 4th cousin removed has what your child has and they think they know everything and will try to tell you what you should do.

5. Always be prepared to cancel plans. You never know when a child is going to get sick, have a bad day, or anything. Plans will often be thrown out the window. You will learn pretty much no plans are set in stone, even when it comes to the doctors. Be prepared for even them to cancel appointments on you, sometimes last minute. It can be frustrating, but it happens. Don't get upset if you have to cancel plans with someone and don't let them make you upset over it. Things happen.

6. Crying and showing your emotions is not a sign of weakness. Things can get tough at times and it may overwhelm you. Learning of a new diagnosis, maybe a surgery is needed, or maybe the week has been rough. It is ok to cry, let it out. Crying is a sign of strength, it takes a lot to just let it go.

7. Find your people you fit with. Whether it be friends, doctors, therapists, nurses, or anyone find those who fit with what you want and what you expect. Don't just settle. If a caregiver isn't what you expect or want then find a new one. If they don't fit with your beliefs and it gets in the way of care, get a new caregiver. Same goes with friends. Surround yourself with people who understand and are there to support you.

8. Don't compare your child to anyone. They are themselves and that is it. First remember that a diagnosis doesn't change your child. They are still your child no matter what. Then remember they are unique. Even kids with the same diagnosis will do things differently. Don't worry about what others do or don't do and don't compare your child to them. Just focus on your child, and don't forget to celebrate. Even the smallest of milestones can be big for some.

9. If you find something that works, or they have a toy or something they love, buy multiples.  You never know when that item will break or just be over used. it may be years down the road and then it may be hard or sometimes impossible to buy. If there is a special ball or medical device that works and there is a chance you may need it long term and its possible to get multiples go for it. So many times something stops being made, or they change things and then it isn't the same.

10. Laugh or smile about something every day. There will be good days and bad days, but even on the hard days you need to stop and find something to laugh or smile about. It is good for you and will help get your mind off things, even if just temporarily. On the same note, don't forget to take time for yourself. You can't be 100% there for your child if you are only on 20%.

I hope this advice helps those who are just starting on your journey.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Top 10 rides at Disney World

In case you haven't figured it out yet I am a huge Disney fan. I recently decided to poll other Disney fans and get their top 10 rides at Disney World. Here is the list, and my opinion on each ride, starting with #10.

#10 Flight of Passage- This is one of the new rides in Avatar land at Animal Kingdom. It seems to be a fast growing popular attraction. Most people seem to love it, only time will tell whether it's popularity is due to being new still, or whether it will stay a favorite. Unfortunately I myself have yet to be able to experience it, but hope to do so on our trip in February. From what I am told it is a 3D motion ride. There is a height restriction of 44 in or taller.

#9 Carousel of Progress- This is one of my favorite rides. This ride is located at Magic Kingdom and can be found in Tomorrowland. This is an indoor ride, where you sit and go through a sort of show talking about the changes over time. The animatronics are amazing and the show is definitely worth it. It is also a great ride to relax and get out of heat or rain or just sit for 20 minutes. It's main song "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" is also quite catchy. It is handicap accessible and no height restrictions.

#8 Expedition Everest- This is another located at Animal Kingdom, which I myself have not been on. I have heard it is a lot of fun and plan on riding it on our next trip. It is a roller coaster ride which has a 44 in or taller height restriction.

#7 Tie Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- Both of these rides are located in Magic Kingdom. Space Mountain can be found in Tomorrowland and BTMRR can be found in Frontierland. Space Mountain is a roller coaster ridden in the dark. It is a fun ride, but can be kinda rough on the body. If you don't like roller coasters or the dark this ride isn't for you. It has a 44 in or taller height restriction. BTMRR is a mine type roller coaster. It is a family favorite, with a height restriction of 40 in or taller.

#6 Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith- This ride is one of my favorites. It is a limo roller coaster staring Aerosmith with their music. It is a LOT of fun. I remember my first time and all the times after. It is located on Sunset Boulevard at Hollywood Studios. You must be 48 inches or taller to ride this ride.

#5 Soarin'- This is a ride I haven't been on in a while. It is located in Epcot. It is a flight motion simulator ride. It has a height restriction of 40 in or taller. It is fun, but it isn't one of my favorites. 

#4 Tower of Terror- This is one of the most iconic Disney rides. It is located in Hollywood Studios on Sunset Boulevard. It is an elevator themed ride that gives you quite the drop. On our trip this past February my girls went on it for the first time. They were 5 and 6 at the time (celebrating upcoming 6 and 7 birthdays) and they were a bit scared, but had a lot of fun. You have to be 40 inches or taller to ride.

#3 Splash Mountain- This is another family favorite. It is one of 3 mountains located in Magic Kingdom. It can be found in Frontierland. It is a log flume ride through Song of the South that end with a big 5 story drop. You will get wet. There is a 40 inch height requirement.

#2 Pirates of the Caribbean- This is a big favorite and one of my all time favorites. It is a must see/do ride. It is at Magic Kingdom in Adventureland. This is a boat ride with no height restrictions, meaning EVERYONE can ride!! We even took our oldest on when she was 7 months old. They have changed it over the years to include characters from the movies.

and now the top Fan Favorite
#1 Haunted Mansion- I would have to agree with everyone, I LOVE the Haunted Mansion. This is a fun yet "spooky" ride that is fun for the whole family. Like most of the favorites, this ride is also at Magic Kingdom and is located in Liberty Square. There are no height restrictions, making it fun for the entire family. It may scare little kids, but just remind them it is all pretend and in fun. We love the surprise at the end too as you ride around in Doombuggies.

Did your favorites make the list? What other Disney lists would you like to see?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

My dream home

          Like me, I am sure we all have that visual of what we would love for our home. I have the one visual of what I could expect and want in a home that I could actually afford, and then I have my DREAM home that I would build if money were no object. I am going to tell you about my dream home, and I would LOVE to hear about yours.

          Let's start with location. I HATE the cold, so it would have to be in a warmer location. I would love to be somewhat near the beach, but I also don't want to be in a major city, I want some seclusion, but close enough to everything where you don't drive forever just to get to something. I would love Florida, but I would also really love Tennessee. It does get cold, but not freezing, there is lots of land, it is a pretty center location and only a few hours from beaches and family and lots of entertainment. If you want specifics we have discussed Newport, Tennessee.
Now for the actual house itself. It has to be on plenty of land. I want a wrap around porch and big windows. I want to be able to look out over the beautiful view and sit on my porch from where ever I want to. Something like a combination of these pictures. 

Outside I want a big fire pit/fireplace and an outdoor kitchen. I want an area where we can throw parties, and an area where we can go outside and have fun and be comfortable. Check out that outdoor media area. That is just amazing!!
A pool is a MUST!! Even want a little kiddie pool and a pool for the pets to play in. A fun play-set for the kids and eventually the grand-kids is also a must. 

Now lets move to the inside of the house. In the entry I want to have a place for everyone to put their shoes, coats, bags everything they need right there together. This will also be our organization area with our calendar so everyone can see as they are coming and going what is going on. 
Now on to the kitchen. That is a big part of the house. A LOT happens in the kitchen of the house. I am a baker and I LOVE hosting get-togethers,  so my kitchen is very important. It has to have a double oven. I want a walk in pantry, lots of cabinet and counter space. I want a pet station where their bowls are put and food is kept at. I want an island with its own sink and maybe even another oven and/or stove. My stove has to have many burners as sometimes I do a lot of cooking at once, especially during the holidays. I also want a little breakfast bar where the kids can sit and eat breakfast in the mornings or just sit and talk. 

An extension of the kitchen is the dining room. My dining room has to be connected to my kitchen. It wouldn't be anything extravagant, but it has to have a big table. We are a family of 6, plus often have a few extras, and want to have the table to host holidays and parties. I would also love to have a breakfast nook area.

The center of the home is the living room. This is where we relax as a family, where we sit when people come over, this is the entertainment hub of the home. The living room has to have a nice entertainment area, lots of seating, and must be welcoming. While there is a TV I would probably have a separate theater room where we would have movie nights and the such. I also want a fireplace.

An essential part of any house is the bathrooms. I would like to have 3+ bathrooms. I don't like having to wait around to have to use the bathroom, and having a family of 6 people often have to use the bathroom or shower at the same time. Having multiple bathrooms would definitely help with that. The master bathroom is the major one. I have to have a Jacuzzi tub and a nice walk in shower with lots of space. I want my bathroom to be relaxing. A double sink would be great. The kids would have bathrooms which would be great to be attached to the rooms for easy access. Think 2 girls bedrooms with a bathroom in between and same for the boys. I would then have a guest bathroom and then one like a powder room no tub or anything.
 Next comes bedrooms. We have 2 girls so I would want each to have their own bedroom. Everyone is always talking about decorating kids rooms in character themes and everything and while I think it's cute, in my opinion I think the room itself should be neutral and save the sheets and such for characters. Kids change likes so much that they could like a character when you decorate the room and then 2 months later may not like that character anymore and then if the whole room is decorated in that character then they are either stuck with a room decorated like a character they don't like or you will be redecorating a LOT. Now my older girl is more of a tomboy so I wouldn't have her room all frilly and girly. I would probably decorate in blues and greens as green is her favorite color. The room will of course have a bed, and dresser and like a little reading/work nook. There will be no toys in the bedrooms as we will have a playroom. There will probably be a little area dedicated to animals as she is a BIG animal lover.  Now my younger daughter is a girly girl so pinks and purples and light blues for her. It will again have a bed and dresser and reading corner. It will also have like a beauty area as she loves painting her nails and everything. The beds in both rooms will be bunks for sleepovers.
I also have 2 boys so each will have their own room as well. Both love all things boy including cars, super heroes, farming, ect so I think we would do something around that likely. The setup would be similar to that of the girls with bed, dresser, reading area, and something to fit with their liking.
I like to babysit and may in the future decide to foster or anything so I would add a nursery on, plus grand kids in the future could use it. It would be gender neutral and have the necessities. It would be all ready for a baby/babies.
Now on to the guest bedrooms and master bedroom. I want to have an extra few bedrooms for if family comes to visit or if we do foster. They wont be anything fancy, just neutral bedrooms. My bedroom needs to have a fireplace. I want a rustic/country theme. I also need a big walk in closet.

With all those people in the house a laundry room is very important. I would love 2 washers and 2 dryers to help with all the laundry we do. I also want an area for folding and everything. I also want space to wash the animals like a pet washing station.

Ok so kids have to have a place to play. I want one area where all the toys are can have them sorted and organized. Have a lego/block table, a place to play cars, a doll area and everything. I also want a separate area where I will make a little town. It will have a school, grocery, house, post office, vet and things like that. I love them getting to use their imaginations. I also want a therapy room with swings and stuff inside a place to jump and everything. 
We home school and we love doing crafts so a home school and craft room is an absolute necessity. Tables, lots of storage, desks, computers and more. Craft storage for EVERYTHING!!
I think that about sums it up. That is my dream house in a nutshell. I would love to hear about your dream houses.

day 3: meaning of my name

A lot of you may be wondering where my blog name came from, how I came up with it. As I have previously mentioned i have 4 kids. They are cu...