Thursday, June 15, 2017

Week In Review

This is for the week of June 4-10.

The highs of the week were:
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  • Making some progress on organization in our house on Sunday. John tackled a couple problem areas in the garage (that wall behind the girls in that picture), and I knocked out some overdue projects in Charley's room. Both areas look so much better and make my organizing heart happy!
  •  Taking Charley and Laney to the lake Saturday. John and I spent many, many days at the lake in our dating years but sold our boat prior to having kids. When our friend offered to let us come out WITH our kids, we couldn't wait to take them out. They both LOVED it so much and Laney woke up the next morning asking to go "ride boat?" again.
  • Some of our regular friend time Friday night in the basement after kiddo bed time. Always a fun time!
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The lows of the week were:
  • I had to stay at work late two days this past week. As always, it isn't too bad since it isn't the norm and it also wasn't too crazy or too late, thankfully. 
  • However, the second work-late day was on gymnastics day so I needed to pick Charley up by 6:45. I got caught up in something last minute at work which made me have to run to my car and race to the gymnastics place to get there on time. I realized I wasn't going to make it on time (Waze showed me arriving about 4 minutes late) so I called them to let Charley know as I KNEW she would panic. When I arrived (only 3 minutes late!) she was sitting down next to her teacher and I could tell she'd been crying. Ahhh! My poor baby! Made me feel so bad!
The best money I spent was on:
It was time for John's phone upgrade and he wanted to get the iPhone 7 like I currently have also - I upgraded last fall. However, I recently regretted my upgrade decision because I wanted the 7+ instead that has Portrait mode. John, being the awesome husband he is, offered to order the 7+ for me with his upgrade and he took my iPhone 7 for himself....my PINK iPhone 7. So, the best money spent was on the taxes we had to pay for the phone. I'm IN LOVE with this phone!

The book I am currently reading is:
I didn't get to read any of it this week, but I am sort of getting back into the habit of reading! Yay! The book I'm reading is The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney.
The TV shows I watched were:
We finished the last season of Bloodline. The last two episodes ruined the entire 3 seasons. SO disappointed in how they finished a good show. 
The dinners we had were:

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It was a very busy take-outty week...
Sunday: A Sunday usual - chicken and dumplings.
Monday: John and I both worked late and had my dad pick up the girls. As a thank you (and because our fridge was empty) we got take out Jim N Nicks BBQ for dinner.
Tuesday: Hello Fresh meal of Cherry-Drizzled Pork Chops. I did not cherry-drizzle my serving, thank you very much.
Wednesday:  Take out from Five Guys. 
Thursday: Swim Lesson night, so after swim lessons Charley, Laney and I ate at the dine-in Pizza Hut. John, who did not go with us, ate something at home.
Friday: The girls and I went to Chick Fil A on the way home so the girls could play in the tubes and eat dinner. John made another Hello Fresh meal - the Vietnamese Marinated Steak and I HATED the smell of it. Bleh. So, yeah, glad I did not wait until we were home to eat because I would not have eaten that. 
Saturday:   Ate dinner on our way home from an afternoon at the lake. Went though the Zaxby's drive through which hasn't been my favorite in the past, and ordered something different this time. I got the Cajun Club sandwich and it was SO GOOD. 

My favorite picture from the week was:

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Taken with my new phone, of course!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Campground Review: Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

In May we were lucky enough to spend a week at the mecca of all campgrounds: the DISNEY campground called:


We had an amazing time and will definitely be back. It is hard to NOT have a good time while anywhere on the Disney property, but I'm going to try and only review the campground here. Maybe if I get my crap together I will tell you about our whole Disney trip in another post. Don't hold your breath though.

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This was actually our second visit to this campground. Our first visit was in 1995, so OVER TWENTY YEARS AGO. We had very fond memories of our first trip and had always wanted to return so we finally made it happen. Quite a few things changed in those 20 years, but both times we left certain that we would come back again. 

We made our reservations online through the Disney website. As a telephone hater you know this is something I prefer. Not many campgrounds have the ability to make online reservations so this is a plus. We bundled our park tickets and campground reservation all together and we were able to make payments on it for the year leading up to the trip. It had to be paid off 30 days prior to check-in, just like if you were to make reservations at any other Disney resort. So this is not so much a campground specific item but a convenience nonetheless so I'm including it.

The rates at this campground aren't really comparable to other campgrounds but let's be real. This is DISNEY. You don't expect them to be comparable because your experience won't be comparable. I still thought they were very reasonable though - ranging from just $53-$90 a night. They have four levels of campsites - the cheapest being for tents our pop-up campers. The Premium sites are the most expensive   and are large enough to park your biggest RV. But, the difference in price between their top two tiers of campsites was only around $5, so in our opinion there was no need to NOT select the Premium sites. These sites are fully paved and are mostly all surrounded in trees and shrubs so you have privacy. 

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Forgot to take a picture of our site until we were packing up, so the trailer and golf cart take up a ton of our space and make it seem so much smaller. We had plenty of space though! This is site 1447.

One thing you are not able to select online, however, is which loop or site you prefer. I am certain that you can call and request a certain area but I did not do that. I read some reviews which suggested the best loops for premium sites to be within loops 400-700 so that was what I had in mind to request upon arrival. However, our really friendly gate agent told us our site was in the 1400 loop and instead I decided to just go with it.

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I'm actually really glad I just went with it! After checking in and doing some exploring, we did make note of a few favorite sites to request for the future (sites 725, 407, 423, 1410, 1419, 1421 if you are interested), but we were really happy being where we were! Our loop was very close to the pool and Meadow Recreation area and was close to the Settlement area and a playground too.

In a campground this size transportation is important. There are nice sidewalks throughout, but sometimes you need to move quicker than that to catch an early morning bus to a park or to get the overtired children home ASAP. We brought my parent's golf cart to be our main source of transportation and that was perfect. They also rent golf carts and there are several areas where golf carts have their own parking area. If a golf cart isn't available, you won't be stuck walking around the massive campground. They actually have 3 different bus routes within the campground to get you where you want to go. These buses stay within the campground and just do different loops all day long. There are bus stops outside of each loop but we never actually used these buses during our visit. There are also boats that take you directly to Magic Kingdom or to a couple other resorts. SO awesome to be able to hop on one of those boats after a day at Magic Kingdom when the line for the tram or monorail has thousands of people in it.

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(One thing that did change from our first visit 20 years ago was that the bus stops are for internal buses only now. Before, the buses for each park made loops throughout the campground so you just walked to the end of your loop and waited for the bus for Epcot, for example. Now, you would need to catch an internal bus, walk, or golf cart it to the front of the campground to transfer to the buses that take you to other places within the Disney resort.)

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The amenities here are endless. Of course there are pools (we just visited the main pool in the Meadow area, but there is another one in the cabin area also) which has a fun slide and there's also a splash area. There's a sand volleyball court and tennis courts near the pool, and tether ball and basketball courts and playgrounds all around. We took advantage of the pool/slide/splash pad on several occasions and visited the playground (which we had to ourselves) a couple times in the cooler evenings.

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There's an area for horseback rides, and at the other end of the campground a ranch and stable you can visit where the smallest visitors can take pony rides. Charley had a pony ride one afternoon. It was only $6 (I think), cash only, and I had to lead the pony around myself. It was a quick and fun little activity. My one complaint though is that it was hard to find! The horses up front are easy to see so I assumed this would be the location of the pony rides also. But, these horses are just for the horseback trail rides. The ponies and bigger horses are at the complete other end of the campground. If you take an internal bus there, they would be easy to find. But if you are on a golf cart or bike, it was really hard to find which parking lot was near them and exactly where to go. No signs, no direction, nothing. After we finally found the ponies, we couldn't figure out WHERE to go to pay and get our own pony ride. Another parent leading his child around on a pony was finally able to tell us what to do.

After we did that we were able to go into the large stables to see some of the horses that Disney uses for parades or wagon rides or to pull Cinderella's coach.

There were tons of other rentals and things to do though. Here's one menu board of some of the stuff you can rent or do:

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Let's talk about food. Normally while camping you cook your own meals each day, but Disney's campground actually has several other options too. There are two dinner shows hosted here that you can visit whether you stay in the campground or not, but there's also a buffet restaurant which has a separate entrance for take-out. We utilized the take-out place a couple of times for dinner or for a quick pizza. Food was good and prices were as you'd expect at Disney. Pizza wasn't that bad in price or taste. Not that good, either, though. Ha.

Something we believed that the campground was lacking was a place to get a sweet treat! The restaurant had a couple of small options which we were not very impressed with. There's also a food truck each evening at the campfire singalong thing, but it had NO DESSERTS. There are two camp stores which each stock the same things so the best we could do when our sweet tooth called was to get a candy bar or a packaged ice cream. Meh. If Disney allowed us to open an ice cream shop within the campground we would be millionaires.

There was an arcade near the pool and by the restaurant. Charley and I spent an hour there, spent $10 and played every game. Not too shabby for an hour's worth of fun!

We never did the campfire singalong and outdoor movie thing. It started at 8:30ish each night and since we did theme park days every other day, we were either at a theme park at that time, or getting to bed at a decent hour to gear up for the next day's theme park. An 8:30 start is pretty late for my smaller children.

The entire campground is very wooded and nature-y and therefore you'd assume buggy. My children and I are BUG MAGNETS. We are eaten alive all summer long. But, Disney won't have that. They spray for mosquitoes often and none of us ever got a single bug bite. It was amazing! And, if you are still getting bug bites they would supply you with insect repellent for free!

The camp stores weren't my favorite. It was hard to find prices on so much of it, for one, and for two we were unable to find what we were looking for on 3 different occasions. One time we were looking for a forgotten ingredient for our dinner and they didn't have it. Another time I wanted dive sticks for the pool and despite having a section of pool things there were no diving sticks so I had to find something else in the store that would work. The third thing was camper lights (the decorative ones you hang from your awning). We saw another campsite with Mickey lights and thought they would definitely have them in the store. But nope! Nothing like that at all. Tons of souvenirs and things like that though so you don't have to waste time in the theme parks shopping.

The picnic tables at the site were very nice. They were that molded plastic material, square with 4 benches and sat 8. I wanted one for myself until we Googled it and saw they were around $700. (speaking of Google - WiFi was also great here!)

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Some sites even come equipped with themed clothes lines! ;)

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Since the campground is very close to Magic Kingdom, you are able to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach each night. Even without being able to see the lights on the castle, that fireworks show is pretty great so that's another perk. They play the music that goes along with the fireworks from speakers along the dock. There's a little electrical parade out on the lake each night which is pretty cute too.

All in all, I give it a 10 out of 10! Charley proclaimed that this was her best vacation ever and I know we will be back when Laney gets a little older too. (That 8+ hour drive was brutal with at 2 year old that doesn't nap on the go very well.) I don't think you can go wrong at any Disney resort, but I do love the outdoorsy aspect of this one.

Have you been here? I felt like there was so much to do that we couldn't get to it all. What was your favorite? I feel like you either need to be counting down to a Disney vacation, on a Disney vacation, or need to be planning the next one. I'm ready to plan the next one!

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

This is Two

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I love all of the baby stages as I'm an equal opportunity baby stages lover, but age two is one of my favorites for sure. They are learning so much every day and it's exciting to see them turn into little humans with opinions of their own. The exciting parts are nestled right in between the tantrums, but, it is exciting nonetheless.

Laney turned two a couple of weeks months ago and the vastness of her personality is astounding to me! So much packed into those 25 pounds. For those that know us personally - Charley is me through and through. Laney, rightfully so, is John. And John also has a ton of personality. It's fun (and admittedly sometimes frustrating) to parent a child that is so much like my husband. And of course, she's TWO, so some of the frustrating parts may just be because she's two and not that she's inherently difficult. We'll reassess the difficult factor once we move out of the toddler years.

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Laney likes things done her way, on her terms, and things need to be her idea. Even if her way is exactly the same way you just did yourself. She will undo what you did and redo it on her own. Whether that is moving her drink back from the edge of the table, putting a bite of food on her fork, picking up a toy off of the ground - all things she has undone just so she could redo them herself.

I have spent a lot of time in the glider in her room over the last 6 years between Charley and now Laney. I think back fondly to falling asleep in that chair with a tiny Charley on my chest or rocking Laney back to sleep in it during the middle of the night, not to mention the hours and hours I spent nursing them in it. I've read books to both girls in it for 6 years, too. Nothing beats having one of their sweet, sleepy bodies in my lap and reading them their favorite books. They are at just the right height to get a million kisses on their heads and I just love every single thing about it.

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Well. Laney has her own ideas about how this time should work. She now sits in the chair BY HERSELF, usually lounged across the chair and both arm rests. I've been evicted to the ottoman and I now sit there to read books to Laney. I need to pick up a palm frond so I can also fan her each night as she winds down.

One of Laney's newest and favorite phrases is "No way!" and sometimes even "No way Jose!"

I posted a video on Instagram about the way Laney pronounces "Bunny" on April 15th. Bunny is the name of her lovey blankets and as long as she's been able to babble, she's called them "Duh Duh". Sounded very similar to Dada sometimes, so you had to use your context clues to figure out what she needed. In the video I am basically laughing at the fact that even though she can enunciate the two syllables of bunny very well, she refuses to put them together correctly and instead prefers duh duh.



Well. That backfired. She dropped that incorrect pronunciation only a few days after that and has never looked back. Bunny is now buh-nee and "duh duh" is down there resting in the Memory Dump with Bing Bong.

Rice is her favorite food. Fried rice, Mexican rice, white rice - she won't discriminate!

My goodness this child loves to sing. Favorites are Happy Birthday, Twinkle Twinkle, the ABCs, and the Itsy Bitsy Spider. She likes for you to sing along - until she doesn't - and will promptly give you a SHH!

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We are 0 for 3 on her enjoying carousels. One time I gave up and sat in the bench thingy - which was my first time ever riding the bench on a carousel. Another time I ran out of negotiation tactics too late so I ended up holding her on my hip while we stood beside a horse that she refused to sit on.

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But, give her a spinny dippy theme park ride and she LOVES it. This particular ride makes many adults feel sick and it is the one Laney loves the most. But don't dare put her on a carousel horse. Makes sense.

She still naps twice a day about 50% of the time I'd guess. We are moving away from the two-naps-a-day thing, but she's not all the way there yet. Bedtime is at 8.

She's wearing a 2T and is just about in a size 6 shoe. We are finishing up size 4 diapers and I'll buy size 5 next. It is time to start thinking about potty training, but she is adamantly against it. I still have the potty chair out and we talk about it a little each day, but she is very much against it right now. I'll give it some more time.

She HATES getting her teeth brushed. (I remember Charley being the exact same way at this age though.) STRONGLY DISLIKES having her hair brushed and a bow added. I can at least somewhat get away with doing that most days though. Currently HATES baths, so we have been showering with her instead. (Another Charley similarity because Charley also went through the exact same bath-hating phase.)


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She plays pretend pretty well, and mimics everything Charley does. 

Mornings during the week consist of me going in to wake her up and get her out of her crib. I always come equipped with a cup of milk and she always starts smacking her lips soon after she opens her eyes. After she's had a couple of swigs she always asks for the exact same thing - "See Daddy?" So I carry her to find her Daddy so she can get some snuggles from him each morning, too.

She's started saying "luff you" and I just melt into a puddle every time I hear it.

She tries to police what you say to her. For example, "Laney I like your dress!" can be met with "NO! Laney dress. You no like." Or if you walk up and say "Hi Laney!" you may be met with "NO! No hi Laney."

Time outs are not very effective with her. When she hits Charley and I send her to time out, that is usually met with a sweet "OTAY!" and she runs off to put herself in time out. She will sit there the entire two minutes and gives out "SOWWEE"s and hugs when it is over. She totally gets the concept, but I don't think it's doing much to prevent bad behavior.

But that tough exterior houses the sweetest little girl inside. She's SO cuddly and very lovey and despite most pictures, is a happy and smiley tiny girl. I can't wait (or maybe I can) to see how she does in preschool this fall. It will always be an adventure with Laney, but one that I am enjoying and can't wait to see where it goes.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Crowdsourcing

Normally when I need advice of this nature, I'll just make a Facebook post and gather info that way. But, I kept thinking of other things I wanted advice on, and, a lot of my blog peeps are not also my Facebook peeps so I thought that posting this and then sharing on Facebook would give me more answers all at once! So, your advice, please!

First, Disney. We are headed to Disney World pretty soon and I actually am using the Touring Plan thing this time. Which, is pretty awesome I must say. I'll report back how accurate it was and if it was worth the $15. Anyway, we don't really do reserved dining while in the Disney parks and opt for the quicker counter service types of places. (Except for Animal Kingdom - I did snag the coveted 8:00 a.m. reservation at Tusker House) Anyway, my question is mainly regarding lunch and dinners...

What counter service place is your favorite at Magic Kingdom? Epcot? Hollywood Studios? Animal Kingdom?
We normally just eat whatever is near when the hunger bug strikes. But, with this touring plan we could plan our day and pick a place that is particularly better than others if we wanted. I know the internet is LOADED with reviews and advice about anything and everything Disney. But, I like YOUR advice better. There's almost TOO much on the interwebs about Disney so it gets overwhelming.

Laney in Pecos Bills last year
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Speaking of Laney, she turns TWO on Saturday. I am really struggling in the gift department for her. I guess that's pretty typical when you have multiple children, especially those of the same sex so I know I'm not alone. But, I just don't know what to get her! I've got a few things that I think she'll like, but I haven't used up my typical birthday budget on her and there's nothing I'm particularly excited about giving her. Nothing that I think she will be crazy about either, though judging what that baby toddler thinks isn't that easy either...ha.

Anyway, anyone have a great gift idea for a two year old? 

She does tend to love Charley's toys, so I'm willing to buy something for her even if she doesn't quite meet the suggested age limits.

Ideas!? I'm typically a pretty good gift giver I think, but, I get my best ideas at the last second. But, her birthday is 5 days away and I'm still drawing a blank. Don't make me stroll through Target late Saturday night in desperation! (Although, that doesn't really sound all that miserable, right?!)

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Finally, remember when I mentioned how I get so many calls for Lillian and it drove me crazy? Lacey of 2016 - you knew nothing about being annoyed. Lately, I've gotten SO MANY MORE CALLS and TEXTS for Lillian. Every day I'm getting at least 2 calls and a few texts for Lillian. Mostly student loan telemarketer type things, occasionally something about blood clots, and other miscellaneous things. Y'all - I REALLY don't want to change my number. I've had the same one for almost 20 years.


I've blocked numbers - doesn't work well because they typically use something that gives a new scrambled number each time they call.

When texted, I've put the sender on the Do Not Disturb function on my phone - doesn't work well for the same reason.

I've answered and told them I'm not Lillian.

I've double checked that I'm on the worthless Do Not Call list. It said I had been since 2005 or something and I didn't need to re-do it.

What else can I do?!
On top of all that, a couple texts lately have given me Lillian's last name, and using some light Facebook stalking techniques I've found a Lillian in my same city with that exact name. (Her last name isn't very common so I feel confident this is her.) I briefly considered messaging her, but, what would I say? For all I know she mistakenly gave my number one time and it's been sold all over the world 1,000 times since then.

Ironically, they haven't called once today. So, maybe I've stopped it after all. But, doubtful. I'm sure I'll get double the texts and calls tomorrow to make up for it.



Thanks for any and all advice! I'll keep you posted.

Love,

Lillian

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lately

So, the bar stool situation. We were unsuccessful in finding anything with the suggestions given. Womp womp. But, I did get a couple of creative suggestions that I'm still considering. One friend suggested I find some stools of another height on Craigslist or local swap pages and change out the legs for the height we need. I have no idea why I hadn't ever thought of that! So I did peruse Craigslist a couple times with that in mind, but ultimately didn't pull the trigger on anything.

And then, Wayfair never requested their stools back! It has now been over three weeks which was how long they told us to hang onto them in case they wanted to retrieve them, and nada! So, Merry Christmas to me, three bar stools for free! I did consider using the tops of these in conjunction with the suggestion of my friend and just adding longer legs. That option is still on the table.

But John's suggestion was even crazier. He suggested we cut the bar down in height and then have bar stools at counter height. I thought it was a crazy idea at first. But the more and more I think about it, the more I like the idea. If we did a counter height bar - so basically just extend the counter top out at the same height, we'd have a much bigger area for food prep. Which, makes me not want to spend any time or money on extra tall bar stools but instead save our pennies for that project instead. Because, we wouldn't just cut the bar down and use the same ugly counter top, we'd go ahead and go forward with getting new counter tops too. And then maybe update the cabinets as well. So, maybe this isn't such a problem after all if I'm going to get all of that out of the bar stool situation. Problem (not yet) solved!

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Charley is now 13. Time flew, right? This was on our way to a Parents Night Out thing at her gymnastics studio.

Seriously though. She may still be 5, but every time I put her hair back especially, she looks so much older than 5. I would just solve this little issue by keeping her hair down from now on, but....

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...about 2 months ago we dealt with one of the yuckier of the childhood ickies - LICE. EW. So, hair has been going up almost every day. We were warned that there was a case at her school so as soon as she said her head was itchy I knew what it was.

I had zero experience with lice, even as a kid myself, so I solicited advice from my sisters, a few friends and even on Instagram. From there, I made a game plan and got to work.

I chose to try a kit even though many suggested against them. Another thing I kept hearing was that the shampoo or whatever wasn't really the most important part. The most important thing was the meticulous combing. I struggled with how to start and didn't know what I was looking for, but I eventually figured it out about a third of the way through Charley's thick hair.



It took 1.5 hours to go through her head, bit by bit, very slowly and meticulously until we got all the way through and I knew what it was I was looking for. But, since I didn't figure it out until 1/3 of the way through, I knew I needed to go back through another time. I did the entire head again and when we were done she and I had been sitting in those chairs for 3 straight hours.

Anyone else's head itch?

Then, that night I did it all again one more time. So, 4 full hours of combing in that one day.

That was almost 2 months ago now, so I feel like I can finally say we are out of the woods. No one else ever got it (in our family or in her class at least) and we haven't had any re-infestations. I kept the comb out and spot checked her head every night for weeks after that.

So, all that being said, I agree with the thing people said - it's not which kit or what treatment plan, it is more about the combing for sure. I say this like I'm an expert with my one time experience. I don't want to be an expert, though. I'm fine with checking that box and moving on from this childhood yuckiness.
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Another first, but this one is a mostly happy first. Charley lost her first tooth! I say mostly happy because the drama surrounding it wasn't all happy.

And, by the time I'm actually posting this, she's lost her second one too! Both times she left a sweet note for the tooth fairy.


Our tooth fairy is rich apparently because she leaves FIVE DOLLARS each time. That's a 500% increase from when I was losing teeth. I tried to negotiate with the tooth fairy because I thought that was a little too much money per tooth but I didn't win this negotiation, so $5 it is, I guess.

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Remember back on my NYE Day in the Life when I quickly completed a management training course for work? Well, my completion of that by the end of the year (barely!) got me entered into a drawing to go along on a trip that the company takes top performing salesmen on each year. And, I won! Destination was Aruba!

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We went for 5 days a couple weeks ago and it was awesome. We stayed at the Riu Palace which is an all inclusive resort. Loved it so much! On a UTV tour we took, we learned that Aruba has the highest return rate of any of the Caribbean islands - it was something like 78% I think. Anyway, I do believe I want to contribute to that return percentage one day. The resort was really nice, the beach was perfect, the island was very safe and walkable. Recommend! Also recommend getting someone else to pay for it! ;)
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The last two weeks we've dealt with quite a bit of sickness. It started out 2 Tuesdays ago with a trip to the Minute Clinic for a flu test. Charley was complaining of several things all which sounded flu like in conjunction with her fever. I wasn't able to get into her doctor that day and since flu meds need to be started pretty early on in the virus I opted for the Minute Clinic to do a quick flu test. 

It was negative. Whew! But, as she checked Charley's ears Charely reacted with an OUCH! Yep, ear infection. The one thing she didn't complain about hurting.

So, amoxicillin it was for the next week. Monday evening of the next week we noticed her eye started gunking up. By bedtime, we were sure it was pink eye. UGH. But, we still had the drops from another case of pink eye before. (Plus, our pediatrician office doesn't want to see you for pink eye - they just call in the drops so I feel safe hanging on to those meds and making the call to use them myself.) We started the drops that night. Charley was NOT COOPERATIVE. I had to sit on her to keep her arms and legs under control, then I'd use my hands to pull down her lower lid while John handled pulling up the upper lid and put the drops in.

She obviously missed school that Tuesday, and gymnastics that evening.

The next morning I notice a rash on her upper thighs when helping to get her dressed. I did some Dr. Googling and determined that a rash is pretty common after finishing antibiotics, so I hoped that was what it was and sent her to my sisters. But, we kept her out of school just in case it was something contagious. 

That rash spread, and the next morning it was all over her body and parts were VERY RED and angry. A call to the doctor was placed and they did want us to bring her in. Ultimately, they think she could be allergic to penicillin, or she may have just had that common reaction many people have to antibiotics. But, our doctor appointment that day wasn't until after school was over, so we weren't able to get those answers in time to send Charley to school. She missed her Easter Egg Hunt and class party that day.

All throughout this she also had a cold, and occasionally said her throat hurt. But, her tonsils looked fine so I assumed it was just a normal symptom of a cold. By Saturday, all symptoms seemed to be gone. Whew! Because I had decided to host an Easter Egg Hunt at our house this day. It went great and she went to bed with a smile on her face.

The next morning though, a slight fever returned and she complained of her throat again. Our pediatrician has weekend walk-in hours and in an effort to avoid missing more work for another doctor visit, I decided to take her in to get her throat checked out. 

On the way there she was pretty pitiful and I was HOPING we didn't pass any germs to our many guests the day before. At about 5 minutes from home, Charley tells me she thinks she may throw up. I'm driving so I only can do so much, but thank goodness I hadn't cleaned my car out in the last few days months. There, right within reach was a quart sized ziploc bag in the floor. I grabbed it, handed it to Charley and she filled the bag and didn't get a drop on her anywhere. By the time she was done I had pulled off into a parking lot. I helped her wipe her mouth and sealed the nasty bag and we continued on. She felt MUCH better after that and I felt more secure in my decision to bring her to the walk-in hours office.

We get there and a strep test is done. It was negative. Whew! He is also pleased with the amount the rash had faded. The only other thing "wrong" with her was she still had some fluid in her ear, but it was clear and would likely drain on its own. She didn't even have the low grade fever any longer. Nothing contagious and nothing to prescribe. Which was good news.

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On the way home, she threw up again. This time I was prepared though and gave her one of those giant blue IKEA bags before we left for home. R.I.P IKEA bag. And I was so proud of her vomit accuracy! Whew! 

She was PERFECTLY FINE the rest of the day (we stayed in all of Sunday just in case) and finally woke up with no ailments this morning. It's a miracle! I am guessing the pukes were probably car sickness because she already didn't feel well? Who knows. I'm just hoping the sickies stay away for a while!

And dang, this update could have been a blog post all its own.

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Ok, let me post this darn thing before it gets any longer. Anything I forgot to update on? Let me know and I'll get right on it. It only took me two full months to type this post up.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Campground Review: Andrew Jackson State Park

Last May I decided I would start keeping track of which campgrounds we visited and what we liked and maybe disliked about each. Hotel reviews and excursion reviews and reviews for basically anything else are so easy to come by. But for whatever reason campground reviews are not. And the ones you do find are typically negative so it makes booking a new place nerve-wracking because the negativity scares you. I'm not sure why this is - maybe people just aren't campers and their expectations are not realistic.

And then, I didn't even keep it up. Since last May, we've visited 5 other campgrounds that I could have reviewed - but I never did. So this is me giving it another go as this year's camping season begins.

Our first camping trip of 2017 was to:


This was our second visit to this campground. It is a very short drive from our home so it's easy for a quick weekend trip. The drive for us is just 35 minutes so we are able to not take any time off of work and still enjoy a little weekend away without much trouble at all. It's far enough away though that it doesn't feel like we are taking the camper 5 miles down the road. 


Both times we've camped here we've stayed at the same site - site #21. Our ideal sites would be #16-#19, but those 4 get booked well in advance in my experience. Those 4 are more waterfront, which as I've said before, is a major consideration for our family. We always prefer campgrounds WITH a body of water, and then we'd like our site to be BY the water as well. 

However, 21 is actually pretty decent also, despite what it looks like on the map. The path to the water is wide open from the back of our site and is still very visible. This was Charley on our trip in 2016 walking back to the camper from the lake. The reflective area in the background is the water. So, still very accessible and visible.


All sites are spacious and semi-private though. It didn't seem that anyone had much trouble due to grade of the land or just space in general backing into their lot, either. A few sites were also pull-throughs.

This year we spent a Mid-March weekend here. The weather was rainy a couple times and in general, unpredictable, as weather typically is during the month of March, but we were comfortable in jeans and hoodies most of the day. During the afternoon we could lose the sweatshirt and just wear a long sleeved tee, but sweatshirts and a warm fire were needed in the evenings. Last year our weekend visit was in May and was very warm . I still think we needed sweatshirts and pants in the evenings, but during the day Charley was playing in the water and wearing sleeveless dresses.

Another thing we look for in potential campgrounds are amenities. Whether in the campground or near the campground - we at least want a couple options of things to do rather than sit around the entire day. This campground doesn't have much of anything outside of it, so I'm glad there are enough things in the campground itself to keep us entertained for a weekend. Here are the activities we've tried:
  • Boat Rentals (just aluminum fishing boats/oars)
  • Geocaching (we've found all 7 in the entire park!)
  • Playground
  • Ranger Informational Programs
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • & just playing along the water's edge
There are also horseshoe pits, but we haven't used those. I don't remember seeing horseshoes in the pits, so you may need to pick them up from the little museum/store, or maybe just bring your own.

There is a very easy trail all the way around the lake. The only difficulty is the length of it, especially when carrying a temper-tantrumming almost 2 year old. Or so I've heard. ;) There are several other hiking trails as well. I would think there would be a trail map somewhere, but I never saw one.

The playground is great and often times we were the only ones on it. But, on Saturdays when people are likely to rent the shelter next to it for a kid's birthday party you do end up sharing the playground with the birthday party children. I prefer to go early in the morning and take a towel to wipe the dew from the slides so that my kids had the playground to themselves. Then again, I am an introvert so take that for what it's worth!


Last year we saw a sign for Bird Program at 1:00 or something like that. We had NO IDEA what it was, whether we'd need to bring our own personal bird-watching binoculars or what, but me, my mom and Charley showed up anyway. It ended up being a kid's program about local birds and we were the only three in attendance. So, my mom and I got to color and make pipe cleaner bird feeders too. Ha! It was pretty informative, too!



This year Charley insisted we try out the boat rental also. So, at 4:15 on Saturday afternoon I drove to the museum/store within the park to rent the boat/oars. However, I found out they closed at 5! They did hourly rentals, so I told the guy that was fine, we'd just pay for the whole hour anyway. That cost us a whopping $3! Haha. John and Charley got about 30 minutes of rowing around before it started to pour down rain. It was the perfect amount of time anyway so we did not request a refund for the $.75 they missed out on. ;)


The Geocaching was a lot of fun, too. There are 7 total hidden throughout the 365 acres. Last year we found 3 of them, and this year we were able to find the remaining 4. I will say that the two that were the most difficult and furthest out were REALLY FAR OUT. I'm used to taking a marked path through the woods until you get pretty close to the actual cache, and at that point stepping off of the trail into the woods for just a little bit until you find the hidden treasure. However - there are two in this park that were SO FAR OFF OF THE TRAIL! One time we crossed an actual road to make our way to the cache and walked for what seemed like a pretty long distance. When we finally found the cache and went to return to the campground, we came back to the road we crossed on our way and instead decided to call my dad to come and retrieve us with his truck since we were next to an actual road. Ha! So, we cheated a bit on the hike back but we definitely weren't expecting to walk that far into the woods. Another note - we would not have hiked that far into the woods either had it been snake season yet.

Back to the actual campground itself - all sites have water and electricity, but only 3 sites have a sewer hookup. Those three full hookup sites are on the inside of the loop next to the bathhouse, so we opt to not book those and instead use the dump station on the way out. The sites are paved and have little to no grade. They all have a nice sized picnic table and fire ring. Also, I appreciate the actual picture of each site on the website and the fact that you can fully book online. Each site rents for $18/night.

And finally - this is more a personal experience story, but just goes to show the level of customer service here. My parents joined us on this year's trip and booked the site directly next to us. They were able to arrive on Friday morning while we had to wait until the evening after we got off of work. While they were setting up, my dad talks to a park ranger and mentions that we were arriving later that evening. Then, the next day another park ranger came up to our site and said another person was claiming they had booked our site for that evening. I thought that was impossible because I booked both sites (while separately) myself for Friday and Saturday nights. Immediately after the ranger left I pulled up my booking email, and, whoops - I accidentally booked Thursday and Friday instead of Friday and Saturday on our site. Argh! So, while we waited we talked about having to go home a day early or if we'd just stay with my parents in their camper or what. I was pretty certain the campground was fully booked. But, when the ranger came back he said the other ranger, the one my dad talked to while setting up, said he could tell it was an honest internet booking mistake and he wasn't going to make us move. He apologized to the other guy but he did have a site by the bathhouse open for him. I felt really bad for that guy, but at the same time grateful for not having to move. It's not a quick process to move a camper and set it all back up again.

We didn't utilize the bathrooms or showers so not able to give a review on those.

Overall, it is a beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors for a couple of days! I would recommend!


For the remainder of 2017 we have 3 more camping trips scheduled, and several more months where nothing is scheduled yet so we will likely book some more - I like to go once a month in the warmer months. If you are local and have a favorite place I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week In Review

This is for the week of March 12-18, 2017.


The highs of the week were:


  • Making Disney Fast Pass Reservations. 
  • Going on our first camping trip of the year.
  • Having a play date with friends we hadn't seen in a while.
  • Going on a work outing to an escape room and actually getting out.



The lows of the week were:

  • Charley has had some MOMENTS since Sunday. Coincidentally Sunday was when we changed the clocks for Daylights Savings Time. My children had not really ever shown any signs of being affected by time changes, so I guess I was due. We've had a major MOMENT per day. Whew.
  • The rest of us were also so very tired all week. Can we fast forward to that magical time of year where we get earlier sunrises and later sunsets?
  • Just the all around busy-ness of the week. March has been so crazy. 
  • Also, I accidentally booked the wrong two nights at the campground this weekend. I booked Thurs-Fri nights instead of Fri-Sat. So, someone came Saturday afternoon claiming they had our site booked. They did. I felt dumb. The park rangers eventually figured it out though without us having to move, thankfully. 


The best money I spent was on:

I didn't really spend much last week. I did sign Charley up for a week of camp this summer at an art studio which I think she will absolutely love.


The TV shows I watched were:

  • This Is Us finale. Which, wasn't as finale-ish as I was expecting. Still good though.
  • Survivor 


The meals we had were:


  • Sunday - Baked Chicken, Rice, Asparagus
  • Monday - Taco Night
  • Tuesday - Grilled Cheese (Tuesdays are tough because Charley has gymnastics from 5:45 - 6:45)
  • Wednesday - Chicken Pasta Alfredo
  • Thursday - Wendy's (Thursdays are also tough because Charley has swimming at 6:30)
  • Friday - Hot Dogs over a campfire with chips
  • Saturday - Cajun Catfish, Rice, Brussels Sprouts - well, they had Brussels Sprouts


My favorite picture from the week was:

There were several. But I love this one of my sweet Charley girl who LOVES camping.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Made Last Minute With Love

Here's how Valentine's Day preparation went in my house this year. [Not] Shockingly, it was the same general situation the last couple of years also. I'm not sure if it is because I'm a working mama (doubt it - I'm thinking many working mamas and stay at home mamas were doing the same rush this evening) or if it is because work is so busy this time of year for an accountant so I just don't have the energy to think about it when I get home, or if it is just my general procrastinating attitude, but whew. Glad they are done!

Y'all know I am crafty and I like Pinteresty things. There are so many cute ideas on Pinterest that take very little time, so I WANT to do these types of valentines with Charley for her class because she really enjoys crafty things too. I had good intentions of starting early so I wouldn't rush around at the last minute and pinned an easy and cute valentine over two weeks ago.


All I needed to do was find some freeze pops next time I went to the grocery store and print the valentines on card stock. EASY PEASY.

Step one: Buy some freeze pops. 

And that's where the whole plan of getting these done early derailed. 

Between John and I, we visited different grocery stores 2 or 3 times and never did find the darn freeze pops. I've never bought them before so I wasn't really sure where in the store they sell them and wondered if they just didn't have them this time of year. (Though clearly they are missing some sales if that's the case since it was nearly EIGHTY degrees yesterday.) So I kept hoping some would magically appear somewhere somehow.

They didn't.

So today, February 13th, at 10:00 this morning, I figured I'd better figure something out. And ol' Amazon saved the day again. I did check Amazon a couple weeks ago also, but I couldn't find any packages of less than 100 freeze pops. I don't really need 100, and so I didn't order then in hopes of finding a smaller and potentially cheaper pack elsewhere. Obviously that never happened, so today I Amazon Same Day Primed a box of 100 freeze pops to my door. (Of course you need to spend $35 for free same day shipping, so I added on a couple of Shopkins gifts to give to Charley and Laney tomorrow on Valentine's Day.) Done and Done!

That package delivered tonight at 6:40, just in time for us to finish dinner and start on valentines.


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We finished up dinner and got to work. 

Only, I never printed the free printables I found. Whoops. Did I mention we currently don't have a working printer, either? Dang it.

So, I saved the printable to my Google Drive and hopped in the car to drive next door to my parent's house to print them.

Get to their house, run inside, log into my Google Drive, and the stupid ^%%$%%*;^($##@$ website doesn't recognize that computer, so they are going to send a quick text to my phone to verify that it's a legit login. My phone is in the car.

Run back out to car, retrieve phone.

Run back in, enter code, print valentines on card stock paper I remembered to grab from my house and bring.......DANG IT.

Forgot the card stock. Forget it. Regular paper is fine. I'll just add card stock to the back instead.

My mom comes in to see them and as I'm showing her I realize of the 4 valentines per page, the margins are off and it is cutting off the "Happy Valentine's Day!" on the 2 on the bottom. So, only 2 good valentines per page means I need to print 4 more pages. 

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Out of paper. 

"MAMA! DO Y'ALL HAVE ANY MORE PAPER!?"

She shows me where it is. Add more paper. Finished.

Hop back in the car and drive up the driveway.

Gather the scissors and glue stick. Crap. Where is the glue stick? PLEASE tell me we still have a glue stick.

Whew. Found it.

OKAY. Charley is ready to get started. As much as I like the perfection of the ones from the Pinterest link, I would rather Charley do them all herself. So, I just gave instructions. 

I instruct her how to cut them apart.

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She glues them each to a piece of card stock.

2 fit on each page, so then she cut each piece of card stock into two.

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From there, she only had to sign her name. (Her teachers suggested only putting their names on the cards so they are easier to deliver! No problem!)

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She added a heart to each one also, because she's Charley.

And then her part was done! Despite the craziness of not being prepared, once she sat down to do them, that part only took 10 or 15 minutes.

She went to play, and I used an exacto knife to cut slits in the tops and bottoms and slide in a freeze pop on each one.

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So cute, right? I love the imperfect cuts and her sweet heart and the way she writes her name. Awwwww.

AND MAN WAS THAT EASY.

HA.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Extra Tall Bar Stools

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For FOUR WHOLE YEARS I've been on a search for extra tall bar stools for our kitchen area. We didn't realize it while we were building, but the bar in our kitchen is taller than an average bar, making the search for bar stools next to impossible.

Extra tall bar stools are not sold in stores. Not that I frequent brick and mortar stores much anyway, but that did make things more difficult when I couldn't find anything I liked online. The different stool heights they sell in stores are counter height at 23-28" (for bars that are the same height as the regular kitchen counters) and bar height at 29-32" (which is the height of most raised bar areas). But not ours. Oh no. The stools needed for our area needed to be 33-36". 

Since some bar height stools are actually 33", we thought we'd be able to get away with finding one that height. We borrowed one from my mom to test it out, but the height didn't feel right when sitting in it. So, we needed stools on the higher end of that extra tall range, to make things even more difficult. 

Trent-Austin-Design-Howe-Adjustable-Height-Swivel-Bar-Stool

Occasionally I'd find an adjustable bar stool in the industrial style that I liked that said it adjusted up enough that it just barely cleared that extra tall range. I'd buy one, bring it home, and put it together with high hopes. Once adjusted, though, we felt like we were atop a plate balancing act. Plus, those stools don't look right adjusted all the way up, either. There's a reason they are always photographed adjusted all the way down. Back to the store those went.

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A few websites have dedicated Extra Tall Bar Stool sections. Wayfair, Hayneedle, and even Wal-Mart and Target. But most don't. There's not a dedicated section on Amazon to break up the extra-tall from the regular heights. And since the keyword can vary (tall, extra tall, 34" stool, 36" stool, etc), it wasn't easy to shop for them on there either. On top of all that - did you click on any of those websites I linked? The selection for bar stools of this height SUCKS. I know I'm picky, but I should be able to find something I remotely liked. I want something with a back, I'd prefer industrial style (but I'd be willing to compromise on that) and something of the right height that wasn't ugly.


Tobias-Designs-35-Swivel-Bar-StoolTobias-Designs-35-Swivel-Bar-Stool (1)Tory-Furniture-Divine-36.5-Bar-StoolCallee-Hayward-34-Swivel-Bar-Stool


Apparently not being ugly was too much to ask. Bleh. Oh, and each of those pictured above were priced at $300 or more. That blue one being almost $800. Like, even if I started to think I could live with something a little bit ugly, I couldn't even make myself add it to my cart at those prices. It was hopeless.

One day however, I must have found something that I liked, was a good price, and was the right height. It was too good to be true!

Truly, it was too good to be true. It was out of stock with no estimate on when it would return to stock. I found an option on the site to notify me if it ever came back in stock. It must have taken quite some time, because when I got the email to tell me it was back in stock I had absolutely zero recollection of the bar stool at all. But! I clicked through the email and good news! I still liked it! It was still a good price! It was back in stock! SOLD! SOLD! SOLD!

Trent-Austin-Design-Parkerton-Adjustable-Height-Bar-Stool

It said it would take a few weeks for shipping. Not the worst news ever, but when you are used to 2-day or 1-day or same day shipping, 3 weeks is a long time. So I was even more surprised when they showed up in just 6 days! Yay! I couldn't wait to put them together that night! Don't you just love happy endings?!

Yeah, so, that's not the end. Womp womp. The dimensions on the site were wrong. Instead of listing SEAT height, it had the TOTAL height of the stool, including the back of it, in the field labeled seat height. Making it just a bar height stool after all. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I contacted Wayfair (I love sites with a chat option for those of us who hate the phone!) and they agreed that the information on the site was incorrect and refunded my full purchase price. (They also said, "I have gone ahead and issued a full refund for those stools. You will see that post to the original form of payment in 3 to 5 business days. You will also receive a confirmation email with further details shortly. Please hold onto the item(s) and the original packaging for two weeks in case we need to retrieve the merchandise. If not contacted within that time period, feel free to dispose of or donate the item." Crazy right!?) The customer service aspect was great, thankfully, but now I'm back to being bar stool-less.

I've googled and googled and scrolled and scrolled. I'm not seeing any changes in what is being offered so I'm hoping I'm just not looking in the right places. Have any other sites I should check? Or, even better, have an extra tall bar yourself and a specific stool recommendation? I'm ready to make a purchase and cannot find anyone to throw my money at. Help!